The lecture hall in Norris 101 is not always filled to capacity, but students lined the walls on Tuesday, March 2, during the Student Senate meeting at 9:10 p.m.
President Donna Randall, Susan Conner, provost, and college vice-presidents were in attendance.
President Randall began the evening with a power point presentation detailing the recent decision of the Board of Trustees (BOT) to cut 15 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. Randall elaborated on the BOT mandate, the elements of the program review and the future of Albion College. An open forum followed the presentation, with Randall calling on students.
Questions were raised regarding faculty cuts, including whether the BOT had considered alternative options and whether the quality of an Albion education will remain the same.
“We’ll try to minimize it (the damage done to the quality of education) as much as possible,” Randall said. “Sometimes it’s better to have fewer programs and improve student quality.”
It was repeatedly stressed throughout the evening that academic programs, not faculty, were under review.
Gregory Hodges, Rochester Hills senior, asked about the availability of the budget. Mike Fransden, vice-president of finances, stated that as a private college, Albion has no obligation to make the budget public, though some faculty are permitted to see it. Competition was cited as one reason for the budget’s privacy.
Responding to repeated questions regarding the budget, Fransden will give a presentation at the student senate meeting on Monday, March 15.
Two students, Abigail Walls, Dearborn sophomore, and Katherine DeVoursney, Muskegon junior, read prepared statements that detailed their thoughts and concerns about the college and the cuts.
“What I read was simply an average student’s perspective,” Walls claims. “I knew that if a student’s statement could be heard in public and supported, it would leave an impression on the administrators I was trying to reach.”
DeVoursney also asked about the Albion Advantage, mentioned both in Randall’s memorandum and in the evening’s presentation.
According to Randall, the Albion Advantage is an investment in the future of Albion College that pairs students with alumni mentors as well as offers opportunities for internships. Randall stated that the Albion Advantage would promote the “career readiness” component of the liberal arts, stating Career Development, institutional and alumni support.
Randall also discussed the impact of the retention rate on Albion’s future: currently at 83% for first – second year students, 75% for second – third year students, and 73% for third – fourth year students.
“I am not satisfied with our retention rate,” Randall said. “A significant number of initiatives have been taken to improve retention.”
Randall did not elaborate on the components of these initiatives.
Randall emphasized the availability of student senate for the facilitation of discussion with administration. Students raised concerns regarding whether the senate was an appropriate representation of the student body.
After the forum Karen Linderborg, Palos Hills, Ill., senior, still expressed concerns.
“It looks like this (the program review) will be done very fast and with very little consideration of the students in these programs that will be cut,” Linderborg said. “Even though Albion says that it will honor a students’ degree, how will it (the degree) have any value if that student just takes class substitutes with professors that aren’t (as) knowledgeable in that topic?”
According to Hodges, the future of his soon-to-be alma mater is still uncertain.
“We may have become more informed on some topics, but for me personally, it was not the amount of information I would have liked,” Hodges said. “Thus, this tactic makes me wonder: does the administration or the Board of Trustees truly know where this institution is going?”