Trustees Reach Out to Students



Laura Stoloff

As a way for alumni to gain insight into Colgate’s academic realm, members of the Board of Trustees came together on Friday to meet with faculty and students, marking the beginning of the board’s new “theme”: academics.

Over the summer, trustees found it crucial to bridge relations between alumni and students in order to stay informed on current academic programs. Therefore, for the first time ever, members of the board proposed to center their four meetings a year on a theme.

“The Board of Trustees thinks strategically and makes crucial decisions that impact the school,” Secretary of the College Kim Waldron said. “Therefore, we want to keep ourselves up to date on the academic program so that we can make the right decisions.”

President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of Faculty Lyle Roelofs lead the board in the concept, as does Waldron, who played a significant role in the design.

“Last year we decided the need for a better concept of the overall academic program at Colgate,” Waldron said. “We asked ourselves: How do we learn about the main thing Colgate does? And we all agreed that this idea would give us a better concept of the overall academic program.”

The idea calls for each member of the board to pair with a faculty member from a specific department in order to better understand the inner workings of its curriculum.

“Faculty members will provide a detailed look at their department and program and their overarching view on the liberal arts education at Colgate,” Waldron added.

The meetings launched Friday morning when department chairs convened with members of the board over coffee. Trustees sat in on a discussion session while Roelofs explained the curriculums, discussing the different parts with them and how students can take advantage of everything different courses have to offer.

“On Friday, every trustee that attended was paired with a faculty member,” Associate Dean of Faculty Margaret Maurer said. “Not all the pairings unfolded, but it served as a start of a connection that will continue through the academic year.”

The day proceeded with six speakers: Three faculty members, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies Anthony Aveni, Associate Professor of German Claire Baldwin and Associate Professor of Psychology Doug Johnson all talked about their classroom curriculum.

What made the event unique were the speeches by three recent graduates of Colgate, Ronald Varnum ’00, Stephanie Wortel ’06 and Jeremy Ballard ’03. They served as case studies of students who experienced the recent academic process.

On Friday evening, no more than four students from each department program joined faculty and trustees at the Alumni Corporation Board Of Directors (ACBOD) dinner. Senior Ian Maron-Kolitch took advantage of the ACBOD dinner and the possibility of addressing The Board of Trustees directly.

“I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the trustees a few times,” Maron-Kolitch said, “and this time felt the most natural. “I sincerely appreciate that the trustees are interested in getting to know students and hear of our involvement at Colgate. Meeting with the trustees this weekend provided us (students) an opportunity to discuss our positive and negative experiences at Colgate, and I hope that the trustees will take some of our comments to heart.”

Expressing optimism for the program’s effectiveness, Maron-Kolitch added, “It is my hope that the trustees get in touch with students on their next visit and that the ideas generated by our brainstorming this past weekend are represented in the Board’s agenda for this year.”

If the idea proves successful, Waldron hopes it may lead trustees to attend classes and meet with faculty and students on their own, taking into consideration what is mutually convenient for the department and themselves. And as this is the first theme for The Board of Trustees, members hope the experiment will prove a success.