Carter announces final recommendations, holds listening forum

By Lindsey Woods

By Heather Schroering and Lindsey Woods

With only one step left in the year-long prioritization process before implementation, President Warrick L. Carter published his program recommendations in a 98 page document called “Blueprint for Action” to Columbia’s website on May 22.

While some of the document was similar to the previous Academic Team’s “One Columbia” recommendations, some of Carter’s suggestions were incongruent with the other foregoing proposals.

Carter proposed that the current English and Fiction Writing departments combine to form one department, tentatively called Creative Writing. This differs from the Academic Team’s recommendations, which suggested making the current Creative Writing program its own department while working with while maintaining the current English Department.

Another proposal of Carter’s that was not in line with previous suggestions and reports was the phasing out of both the graduate and undergraduate magazine programs in the Journalism Department. While he recommended doing away with the magazine programs, Carter slated “Echo Magazine,”a core-class in the magazine program, maintain its resources. Previous proposals did not indicate a phase out of the magazine programs, but rather they remain part of the Journalism Department.

The Columbia Chronicle, which the Academic Team’s report suggested a two-year transition to an online-only format, was recommended by Carter to maintain its print publication with reduced printing.

Carter suggested the Recycling Program, which salvaged nearly 180 tons of waste during the 2010-2011 academic year, be eliminated, leaving all recycling responsibilities, including electronic waste, to housekeeping services and Information Technology. While the program was marked to reduce resources in previous reports, it was not slated to be phased out.

In Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Louise Love’s program recommendations, which preceded the Academic Team’s document, the American Sign Language and English Interpretation program was recommended to be eliminated because it was costly and did not reflect the college’s mission. However, Carter suggested the program remain with decreased resources and make adjustments, such as increased class sizes, adding a deaf study option and discontinuing personal tutoring.

While Carter doted on the many accomplishments of the Student Affairs office, such as establishing Columbia’s urban arts festival, Manifest, and co-leading a college-wide retention initiative, he ultimately recommended the college cut the program’s funding.

However, Carter agreed with the Academic Team’s suggestion to have a more selective admissions policy. He recommended that the vice president of Student Affairs and the interim provost make adjustments to application deadlines and admissions criteria.

Carter also hosted a listening forum on May 25 in Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. While previous listening forums allowed recommendation authors to make changes to their suggestions, Carter will not be adjusting his proposals.

The Academic Team used the forum to express their dissatisfaction with Carter’s recommendations. In their statement, read by Suzanne Blum Malley, associate professor in the English Department and member of the Academic Team, the team said they did not feel as though Carter recognized their recommendations.

“The members of this team are disheartened to observe that the majority of the president’s recommendations seek to eliminate what he, in his own words, at the beginning of this process, characterized as ‘low-hanging fruit,’” Malley read. “The Academic Team believe this is a risky, short-term focus and we are deeply troubled that after a full year, expensive consultants, the tireless work of hundreds and the costly damage done to our reputation, the president’s recommendations do not stray from what many in the community feared would be predetermined decisions.”

Approximately 48 people spoke at the forum, but Carter left the meeting before everyone had a chance to talk. No explanation was given for his departure, but the remaining individuals waiting to give their speeches continued without Carter.

Others voiced their concerns about Carter’s suggestions, including chairman of the English Department Ken Daley, who opposed the proposed dissolution of the English Department.

“Most importantly, the omnibus humanities unit proposed by the president, typically seen in community college settings, is a throwback to a bygone era that will tarnish our hard-earned reputation as a proprietor of best practiced, informed, comprehensive liberal arts education,” Daley said. “We believe that it will, in turn, negatively impact enrollment and retention rates.”

The Board of Trustees will read the recommendations and final decisions are expected to be made in June.