Editor’s Note: Columbia needs these New Year’s Resolutions

By Megan Bennett, Editor-In-Chief

There is no debate that 2016 was an eventful year for both Columbia and the country, with positive and negative changes.

In 2017, the college needs to reflect on what happened at Columbia in the past two semesters—and subsequent Strategic Plan implementation—to create New Year’s resolutions that display commitment to a better future.

The college should take note of some of the resolutions listed below as starting points for what students, faculty and staff not only want to see but need in order to increase confidence in their institution:

Fulfill major hiring needs:

There have been thoughtful steps forward in hiring, particularly within the last few months. Jerry Tarrer accepted the position of vice president of Business Affairs and CFO, as reported Dec. 12, 2016, by The Chronicle. As reported on Page 3, John Pelrine was recently appointed as dean of students. However, the college’s 2016 turnover caused vacancies for the chief of staff and vice president of Development and Alumni Relations that remain unfilled. Without these positions, several financial and communication needs will not gain traction.

Student service roles are also in dire need of being filled; the coordinator of LGBTQ Culture & Community, for example. These vacant positions should have equal priority as major administrative roles because of their daily interactions with students.

Set realistic enrollment goals:

Though it has been an issue since the beginning of Columbia’s student decline in 2008–2009, students saw the major effects of unfulfilled enrollment predictions with two tuition hikes in 2016—in the Spring 2016 Semester for the upcoming fall and again in November 2016 for the Fall 2017 Semester.

Though calculating potential student figures in a given semester is difficult, being off by hundreds of students causes major issues such as mid-semester budget realignments, which in turn lowers the quality of education and morale. More conservative predictions—both for the high and low

calculations—will leave the college better prepared when it comes to allocating funds.

Show measurable movement in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

2016 saw the creation of Columbia’s new DEI Committee, which released a working mission statement, as well as the beginning of an “Undoing Racism” program only a handful of Columbia faculty, staff and students were invited to attend. Other than this, there is little to show why the committee exists.

The committee can show more tangible results by deciding if the college needs an administrative role dedicated to DEI, but also by announcing the formation of a collegewide, mandatory diversity training.

Ensure plans for students are on track:

The most notable promise to students, a campus student center, is scheduled to break ground toward the end of 2017.

For this to happen, Columbia’s leadership needs to be diligent about raising the needed $40 million–$50 million and doing so quickly. To do this, other resolutions must include selling the Johnson Building, which was put on the market last summer, as reported June 22, 2016, by The Chronicle, and following through with other major deals that will raise funds for the college’s endeavors. Other plans like the 2-year Getz Theater renovations, which will cost approximately $9 million,  should also be given the same urgency.

Commitment to these plans will be a major undertaking for administrators and board members. Though they may not personally benefit from these plans, the priority given to them will speak volumes to the student body and will likely improve admissions and overall enrollment figures.