It has been a great honor to be president of Colgate over the last five years. I have been fortunate to work with an extremely talented group of administrators, faculty and trustees to help move the school forward and prepare it for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. While we accomplished a great deal, several issues stand out to me as being especially worthy of notice.
First, Colgate managed to significantly increase the amount of financial aid available, thanks to the generosity of our donors. The class of 2019 will have 64 more financial aid slots than the class of 2011. The result will be a Colgate that is more academically accomplished, more diverse and more accessible to larger parts of American society. These gains are especially notable because much of higher education is going in the opposite direction. College for many with need is becoming less accessible and there has been a decrease in the amount of need-based aid in favor of merit-based assistance. I was glad that Colgate has gone against the tide to promote a more accessible institution. The strategic plan of the university, adopted by the trustees in January 2014, has the ambition for Colgate to become need-blind. This would allow us to join a very select group of institutions that admit the very best students without reference to family income.
Second, Colgate increased the size of the tenured and tenure-track faculty by about ten percent. These enhancements to the faculty allow us to explore new fields, promote intellectual diversity, and address those departments with high student demand. Most importantly, the additional faculty are a strong affirmation that the close personal relationship between faculty and student is an absolutely critical part of Colgate’s education. Again, what Colgate has done is different than many other schools which have had to reduce the size of their tenure stream faculty.
Third, the Residential Learning Communities (RLC) program that will begin in the fall is an absolutely critical part of the strategic plan that will have an enormous impact on student life. The eventual grouping of first- and second-year students on the hill in communities led by distinguished faculty will allow students to learn from each other outside of the classroom in new and important ways. That each RLC will have an “annex” on Broad Street will also provide new and equitable social opportunities for first- and second-year students.
Fourth, I believe that Colgate has taken important steps so that it is poised for the challenges of the era that students will enter after graduation. The strategic plan commits the university to a dynamic curriculum that includes further internationalization, investments in pedagogy, and the judicious use of technology. The creation of the Thought into Action Entrepreneurship Institute has, as the wonderful panel at EWeekend demonstrated, made Colgate distinctive in helping students realize their dreams while imparting important skills to work in the non-profit or for-profit sectors. Our re-engineered Career Services office is doing outstanding work in helping students prepare for the world after Colgate.
Finally, the campus will also change in important ways in the new few years. The Center for Art and Culture that has been approved for construction in the Village and will house Colgate’s important collections in a modern and attractive manner while allowing for visiting exhibits that will draw visitors to our community. The new athletic facility will be an enormous boost to our athletic program and will provide the community with an important venue to cheer and to gather for non-athletic events. The new Career Services building will solidify our commitment to help Colgate students prepare for the world after college. And planning has now begun for a new dorm that will greatly enhance student life and the RLC program.
With all these accomplishments, the most gratifying aspect of the time Sharon and I have spent at Colgate has been the chance to see students and alums learn, grow and develop from their time spent in Hamilton. Thank you for all your good wishes.