Students, faculty bring perspective to presidential poll
The search for Columbia’s next president is winding down as a “finalist candidate” will visit the college Feb. 13 to meet with groups of Columbia constituencies, according to a Feb. 7 email to the college community from Richard Kiphart, chair of the Presidential Advisory Panel, and Allen Turner, chair of the Board of Trustees.
The email also stated that there will be two open forums Feb. 13 with one at 10–11:15 a.m., and the second at 2:30– 3:45 p.m., during which the college community will hear from the candidate. The email said anyone interested in attending should arrive early to in the Conaway Center Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. to secure seating or space in an overflow room.
Students and staff in attendance will have the option of filling out an outline survey assessing the candidate, but The Chronicle did some preliminary investigation to figure out what faculty, staff and students hope to see in the next president. This is the result of the campus body survey.
How can this president improve communication with the college?
“There are a lot people working for Columbia and with Columbia, and they’re absolutely amazing and have the students’ best interest in mind. But I think that a lot of people high-up forget to listen to the voices below them.” – Shannon Page, senior photography major
“I get a lot of emails, but I would say having his own types of lectures, like have fliers that say ‘come to this [event].’ All the other fliers are up on the boards, and [students] read those.”– Taylor Haney, sophomore art & design major
“Just be more visible. This is my third year at Columbia, and I honestly have never seen our president around at anything.”– Sofia Spaniolo, junior journalism major
“By listening to every staff member. Staff members voice their opinions through unions, but I would like there to be forums for staff members to have access to get their points across to the president. They don’t have to be like, ‘You can only meet with the president once a year or twice a year.’” – Oscar Valdez, administrative assistant Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department
What kind of environment do you think the next president is inheriting?
“We are at a crossroad as an institution. There are all kinds of concerns and issues from financial to academic and where our place is in higher education, but also in the Chicago area, the nation and the world.”– Wayne Tukes, college adviser
“A hostile one. I know there have been problems with adjunct faculty not being treated the way they should and students being angry about department cuts.” – Spaniolo
“From a president standpoint, probably a lot of angry people because I know a lot of people are angry with the current president. It should be fun for [them] because this is an arts school, and you have to have fun with it.”– Haney
“[The next president] will have a tough job, but I am sure that the college will pick somebody that will be able to tackle those issues.” – Valdez
“I think Columbia is an excellent institution. I don’t think we’ve ever been stronger, [with] excellent faculty and a motivated student body. I think he [or she] is walking into an institution that has a great deal of potential.” – Karla Rae Fuller, associate professor Film & Video Department
What changes would you like the new president to make at Columbia?
“One who understands the history of the college in order to better fulfill its mission right now and not to deny its history. To see how can we educate to the highest degree people [living] in very challenging economic times without turning our institution again just into something that focuses on a money-making machine.”–Louis Silverstein, professor emeritus, Humanities, History Social Sciences Department
“I want this person to continue the legacy that has already started here at Columbia. There has been a lot of budget cuts, and students have been unhappy about departments getting minimized, so addressing those kinds of issues.” – Spaniolo
“If the person lives up to inciting change by mandates from above and through a culture of trust. This person can create revenue streams with all that we do. This person should also believe in having a president looking outward and a strong provost looking inward. –Eric May, associate professor Fiction Writing Department
“This person should be more involved and be on campus for most of the time because the other president wasn’t on campus a lot of the time.” – Haney
“I think we should build revenues on things other than just enrollment to rely less on tuition. I know there is a hike this year, which is really unfortunate, but I understand the institution is set up in a particular way. But I wish it could get away from that set up that requires the tuition hikes of recent years.” – Fuller
“I would like for the campus to get bigger. It does not have to be Chicago-wide, it could be in different states. I would like to get more students to come to Columbia, our campus to get bigger and for us to expand our school to the next chapter.” – Valdez
What qualities would you like to see in the next president?
“I think the president should have a presence [on campus]. I don’t think most students at any campus get any kind of direct interaction or hear the president’s voice enough in the sense that they should feel some sort of affect from him. I think just having a bigger presence would be a huge step in any president’s direction.” – Hendrick Onderdonk, senior film & video major
“Somebody who definitely has an idea of what Columbia is all about because it is a unique school. Somebody that is more involved in everyday student life because that seemed to be missing from our last president.” – Spaniolo
“I would like to see somebody that is on campus a lot and listens to students, staff and faculty concerns. One of the biggest things I see is a lot of students are complaining that tuition goes up every year, so I would like to see the next president tackle that issue. I think it would be a good idea if a freshman student comes in with one rate and leaves with the same rate. That doesn’t mean that tuition doesn’t have to go up, it just doesn’t go up for those [continuing] students.” – Valdez
“Thoughtful, measured, frugal, responsive to our students, responsive to staff and faculty.”–Michael Bright, staff member Film & Video Department
“I think I would want the new president to not be so business-oriented, but more education-oriented. I know that a lot of times institutions of higher education tend to run like corporations these days, and I wish we could get back to more of an educational, academic model. I would hope that this person would have a real feeling for faculty and students and the educational mission.” – Fuller