Columbia sees ‘best of times, worst of times’

By CiaraShook

Warrick L. Carter, president of Columbia, and Allen M. Turner, chairman of Columbia’s Board of Trustees, joined the College Council during the Feb. 5 meeting on the 8th floor of the 1104 Center at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Carter talked about Columbia’s recent accomplishments, but also called attention to the effect the poor economy has had on the college.

Carter mentioned the open house for Columbia’s first new structure, the Media Production Center, and predicted it won’t be the only structure the college builds from scratch.

Carter said the college plans to increase scholarship funding by 100 percent for fall 2010, as Columbia will offer 900 scholarships to freshman.

He also said interest in the college is the highest it’s ever been. Fall 2009’s open house welcomed more than 8,000 parents and prospective students, and 753 more freshmen were admitted to the college than a year ago.

He gave a head nod to the students in the television, fiction writing and Arts, Entertainment and Media Management who won awards and the awards alumni and Student Affairs have received, all of which mark 2010 as the “best of times.”

“You look at all the wonderful things that are going on and you think, ‘Wow, this place is on fire,’” Carter said.

He said with the best of times comes the worst of times, and that the college has not been immune to the state of

the economy.

Though Columbia doesn’t face the financial challenges state institutions are having, such as University of Illinois, private institutions are losing enrollment because students can’t afford to attend.

“People want to be here, they’re excited about this place because they know about our faculty and what alums are doing and they want to be here, but they can’t always afford it,” Carter said.

Among items the college is required to take care of, including building facade repairs and additional scholarships,

Columbia is adjusting the budget for the spring 2010 semester to accommodate such monetary priorities, but is looking for new ways to do so because of enrollment and whether the Monetary Award Program Grant will be disbursed to the college.

“What happens if [the state of Illinois] doesn’t give [the MAP Grant] to us?” Carter asked the council. “What happens if they don’t send the check to the institution? We continue to balance things as much as possible.”

Turner said the council should not consider changing Columbia’s current mission as a liberal arts college, but to think about the council’s unique position as educators that allows students to participate in society.

“There’s a pejorative saying going around called ‘tuition driven,’” Turner said. “We are not a for-profit school.”

Turner said because the phrase doesn’t exemplify the mission of the college, faculty should ban it from their thinking.

Turner addressed faculty’s questioning of stability among the college’s leadership, saying he’s not finished with sharing his ideas about how to make Columbia the place to be.