The next step & Status quo
The next step\nWith the start of a new era approaching, the University must carefully carve out its place among American colleges
The University is set to begin a new chapter in its history. John T. Casteen, III will step down after 20 years in office this August and will be succeeded by the University's first female president, Teresa A. Sullivan. A number of senior administrators are expected to retire in the near future, and both revenue sports saw coaching changes during the past ten months.
This is certainly an exciting time at the University, but one filled with a number of challenges. First and foremost, Sullivan must strike the appropriate balance between building on the most successful aspects of Casteen's tenure and charting her own course. Unquestionably, University leaders must focus on continuing the University's move toward financial independence. The recent recession has only highlighted the fact that any college overly reliant on state legislatures to pay the bills will face a degree of uncertainty that threatens its academic mission and long-term growth.
One essential goal for the University in the years ahead ought to be finding its best niche in the landscape of American higher education. As an institution with an eminent founder and a storied past, administrators must navigate the University's future so as not to undermine the uniqueness arising from our heritage. At the same time they must still press forward with the sort of innovations and growth opportunities that will expand access to education and enrich students and faculty members' experiences.
There are a few readily apparent keys to success in this task. The first is a continued dedication to keeping the University's tuition costs below those of our peer institutions. Also worthy of attention is a renewed commitment to enhancing the undergraduate academic experience, as well as prudent judgment when renovating facilities and upgrading physical infrastructure on Grounds. With the University tallying a record number of applicants in a year when the total number of high school graduates actually fell, administrators have an opportunity to promote such a vision with a large number of prospective students.
On the sports side, men's basketball coach Tony Bennett seems to be off to a solid start in rebuilding that team. Football coach Mike London should bring more energy to Scott Stadium this fall from fans who were eager for a change in the program. Though the jury is still out about whether these two will ultimately win enough games to satisfy fans, the foundation for enduring success appears to be coming together.
With the number of administrative changes underway, students must recognize the need to become actively involved in shaping the University's future. Likewise, Sullivan and all new administrators ought to embrace student leadership and empower all members of the University community to contribute to the institution's next chapter.\n
Status quo\nDuring the past year, Honor Committee members managed to avoid major pitfalls but stopped short of enacting institutional changes
Next month, the student body will elect the 2010-11 representatives for the Honor Committee. With the current members having served about 10 months of their year-long terms in office, it seems likely that most of the Committee's substantive work for this term is behind it.
This past year for the honor system was clearly not as eventful as some years have been. The Committee steered clear of any major controversies and generally avoided any serious problems. Though a number of operational changes and bylaw amendments were considered, the Committee also never broke the mold or aimed to significantly reform the system or address longstanding, large-scale concerns.
Such an outcome generally matches the Committee's approach to problem-solving. Most challenges have been met at the periphery; though a redefinition of plagiarism in the bylaws was useful, for example, that move avoided consideration of one of the driving force behind the 2008 Semester at Sea controversy, the honor code's ambiguous intent clause.
Certainly it is a little tougher to "think outside the box" in a judicial body than it is in other governing organizations like Student Council. Nevertheless, this type of creative problem solving is ultimately necessary to address any of serious concerns about the honor system. The aforementioned intent clause is chief among such grievances, but the current appeals process, which only allows an appeal to be heard before a panel of five Committee members, also merits discussion and possible revision.
The Committee has seen many years that went less smoothly than this one, and Chair David Truetzel provided thoughtful leadership throughout the term. The Committee's next representatives can further strengthen the community's faith in the honor system by actively seeking student feedback and considering more thorough reforms.