College Council wraps up fall semester

By CiaraShook

In a speedy College Council meeting on Dec. 4, general announcements were made with a review of Columbia’s graduate programs and retention reports at the forefront of the discussion.

The council was led by Hope Daniels, associate professor of Radio and vice president of College Council on the eighth floor of the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

The council elected sole candidate Arvis Averette, instructor of Humanities, History and Social Sciences, to a seat on the executive committee of the college council.

As stated in a retention report by Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, the graduation rate at Columbia improved by a 40 percent from 1999 to 2005.

“The improvement is based on two things: one, according to the student satisfaction survey, we do a far better job of supporting our students,” Kelly said. “Second, the student characteristics have changed dramatically. We now have the characteristics of a college with moderate selectivity.”

On the negative side, Columbia’s graduation rate is one of the lowest of private colleges in Illinois and in the country, Kelly said.

Kelly proposed the Retention Discussion group, in which he joins Louise Love and the deans of the three schools to form a committee to review Columbia’s retention and graduation rate.

“It’s an incredibly complex issue,” Kelly said. “We’re not sure where it’s going to go, but we think, organically, we’re going to learn from each other and we’ll be in a better place.”

Jeff Abell, associate professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and spokesman for the Graduate Policy Council, announced to the board the GPC’s concern about Columbia’s acknowledgement of its graduate programs.

“The GPC wants to take a leadership role in that process and begin to articulate what we feel the priorities for the college of our graduate education should be,” Abell said.

In response to the graduate programs at the college, Rose Economou, associate professor of journalism, inquired about graduate tuition.

“Students are asking me how much is a credit hour for our graduate program,” Economou said. “What is it now and what is it going to go up to?”

Love, vice president for Academic Affairs, said there is no flat cost for all graduate students, but it is determined on a program-by-program basis.

After a study looking at peer institutions, Love found that Columbia’s graduate education is “underpriced.”

“We talked about bringing the tuition up and doing differential tuition program by program,” Love said. “But the thought is just a start since we haven’t had time to consult enough with the programs.”

Love said it was first proposed to have a 10 percent increase in graduate tuition in 2011, but that produced insurmountable concern among the chairs of departments about current students’ situations, and the chairs later preferred a 5 percent proposed increase.

College Council’s next meeting will be Feb. 6, 2010 at 10 a.m. in the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.