Carter expected to make most of contract extension

By Bethany Reinhart

Warrick L. Carter, president of Columbia, is going to be around for a few more years. But if he is going to stick around, it’s about time he works on becoming a well-known public figure to students around campus.

Columbia’s board of trustees unanimously approved a two-year extension of Carter’s contract on Oct. 7. Although Carter has done various things to prove he is worthy of this overwhelming support, there are many areas in which he can still improve.

We embrace Carter’s contract extension and agree that it is currently the right decision for the college. A new president in 2010 would likely lead to a shake-up in senior administration. Carter brought in many of the current administrators. We are at a critical point as a college, and a change in leadership at this time could be a detriment to the success of the school. With that said, students want to see more from their college president in the upcoming years.

One thing students said they would like to see is a stronger presence by our college president. Many students don’t know who Carter is. Even those who do know Carter is Columbia’s president don’t necessarily understand his fundamental role and responsibility at the school. This could be changed if Carter spent more time reaching out to students and if he was more actively involved in student activities. Carter may technically answer to the board of trustees, but, ultimately, he answers to the students. As our college president, he is our No. 1 leader.

Under Carter’s leadership, Columbia has grown at an almost astonishing rate. Since 2004, the number of out-of-state freshmen enrolling has grown by 94 percent. However, students think that with this growth, there needs to be comparative growth and development in facilities and student services.

Since his arrival at Columbia in the summer of 2000, Carter has worked to expand and develop facilities and services to some degree, but students want more. Many students feel the school is not adequately keeping up with its increasing number of students.

Two of Carter’s clear accomplishments include the implementation of the Office of Student Affairs and the restructuring and division of academic schools. But the growing number of students has led to over-extended facilities. The elevators in the South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave., are a prime example of such over-extension. The administration needs to work faster to increase classroom

space in order to accommodate a larger student body.

One of Carter’s main responsibilities as Columbia’s president is to ensure the college is raising enough money. Unfortunately, Columbia’s endowment fund is incredibly low in comparison to competing schools. Fundraising at Columbia is tough, especially in the current economic environment. But if the college is not bringing in enough money in endowments, Carter needs to reassess where money is being spent and start cutting some of the fat out of the school’s budget. On Oct.15, a memo was released outlining Carter’s new plans to cut the budget, but these cuts have come far too late. A yearly tuition increase is not the only answer to the problem of increasing operating costs.

Carter and his administration can indeed claim success in certain instances. But with the extension of his contract, students expect that his work will not end there. He has worked to expand the college and attain goals outlined in the 2010 strategic plan.

But Carter needs to take time to assess the wants and needs the student body is voicing. Not only does he need to work to address those issues, but he needs to let students know he hears them by showing them he is addressing their concerns.