Edited by Mike McMaster
and Harry Raymond
Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor
The following are excerpts from the live online question-and-answer session with President Herbst that occurred on March 1 between 9-10 p.m. on www.maroon-news. com. Using new “Cover it Live” software, students, parents and alumni posed questions publicly to President Herbst via instant message. Here are some highlights.
Anonymous Question: Are there any plans for additional sororities on campus?
President Herbst’s Answer: Regarding additional sororities, Dean Johnson and I are well aware of the large classes that the sororities had to deal with this year. We are continuing to review options so that the sororities can work as well as possible.
Q: In a recent Maroon-News article, you referred to Greek Life as “one important option for residential life.” Do you believe Greek life should be viewed as simply a residential option?
A: As I have noted before, at their best, I believe that GLOs provide robust residential options for students, the possibility of developing a network of life-long friends and a strong commitment to public service. And we seek to develop similarly attractive options for those who choose not to enter GLOs.
Q: Do you support repealing the guaranteed bid ruling?
A: The guaranteed bid rule is currently part of University policy. Of course, we periodically review this rule and others related to GLOs.
Q: I’ve heard that more Colgate study abroad programs are in the works. When will these be available and where will they be?
A: We are working on additional programs now and they will be rolled out as soon as possible. I should note that yesterday we welcomed to campus our new Director of Off-Campus Study Ms. Kara Bingham and I believe that she will be a great asset to us.
Q: As president, how do you try and balance the desires of the alumni and the desires of the faculty on campus?
A: Of course, we greatly value the continuing support of our alumni. At the same time, we are trying to find more ways that alumni can be intellectually engaged with Colgate over a lifetime. The question suggests a tension between alumni and faculty that I have not witnessed. Indeed, many alumni tell me that their formative experiences at Colgate were due to their close relationships with faculty.
Q: The fraternities have been experiencing both late-night (3 a.m. and later) and early night walk-throughs by Campus Safety. Most fraternity members feel like this is an invasion of privacy and feel it perpetuates a “guilty-till-proven-innocent” approach that Campus Safety and the majority of the administration has towards Greek Life in general. Could you comment on either the walk-throughs or the attitude that the students are perceiving?
A: The walk-throughs done in the fraternities are the same as those conducted on all other university properties, including other residential buildings. The fraternities are not being singled out.
Q: Is it true that funding for the arts has actually decreased at Colgate?
A: This year the Provost and I notified faculty that we were discontinuing the Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts effective next year because it had not achieved the requisite level of endowment funding. We continue to support funding for the creative arts and I am working to secure more endowment funding in this important area.
Q: Most top colleges and universities in the country have much greater diversity than here at Colgate. Do you have any plans to diversify the student body, not only racially, but economically?
A: The question regarding further promoting diversity of the student body is an important one. I have said that garnering additional resources for financial aid is the University’s most important strategic priority. We have already met our target of raising $87.5 million for financial aid in the current capital campaign and have decided to try to raise an additional $40 million before the campaign closes in May 2012. Our eventual goal is to become need-blind so that students can be admitted irrespective of family circumstances.
Q: If you were giving advice to a high school senior considering which college to attend, how would you encourage him or her to spend $250,000 on a liberal arts education?
A: I continue to believe that, over a lifetime, the education we provide students has an enormous return not only financially but in many other ways. I am working very hard to encourage students to come to Colgate.
Q: How can Colgate University improve its rankings nationally?
A: I believe that if we continue to strengthen our academic program, we will benefit the entire university and the rankings will follow. Yesterday, at the faculty meeting, I was able to announce that next year we will continue to make new investments in the faculty, including new faculty lines, that will strength our academic program. We are fortunate to be able to make these new investments during these challenging economic times.
Q: When will the speaker for this year’s commencement address be announced? Who is making that decision?
A: We hope to announce the speaker soon. The decision is made by a committee that includes faculty, administrators, students and trustees.
Q: Could you give us just one good story from your college days? I want to get to know my President better.
A: In many ways, the most important experience I had in college was when I won a fellowship to travel to Nigeria during the summer after my junior year to do fieldwork on Nigeria’s economic relations with her neighbors. This was my first time out of the country and my experiences then convinced me that I should undertake graduate work in the politics of sub-Saharan Africa. My own experience also convinced me of the need to make as many different study abroad options available as possible to students to prepare them for the twenty-first century.
Q: Will there be an increase in study abroad opportunities because of the current size of the Class of 2014?
A: We are carefully planning how the size of the class of 2014 will affect academic programs, including study abroad, during the four years that they are on campus. More generally, we are actively working to promote study abroad opportunities.
Q: As an athlete it is hard to make 4 p.m. lectures regarding special events and speakers. Would it be possible to have some night lectures as well? Or perhaps Sunday lectures?
A: I appreciate the question about athletes and the problems associated with 4:00 p.m. lectures. There is no easy answer to this problem but both faculty and coaches are aware of it.
Q: If students have any additional questions or comments regarding anything that was said during the chat session tonight how can they reach you?
A: I am always delighted to be in contact with students. You can certainly email me at [email protected] I have drop-in hours most Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. If that time does not work for you, please contact Ms. Claudia Caraher and she can set up an appointment.
Herbst: I should sign-off now. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to “chat” with you. I have a list of issues that I will follow-up on. If there are questions that you have about issues raised tonight, or any other concerns related to Colgate, please do not hesitate to contact me via email, phone or by coming to my office. My colleagues and I greatly value student opinion and want to work with you to make the university even stronger.