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November 01, 2002 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-01

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 1, 2002


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ru nflin



A look at how connected students feel with
the administrators who affect their lives daily


SA senior Amy McConnell real-
ized last winter she had more
credits than her transcript stated.
Placement into Spanish 232 her fresh-
man year allowed her to receive four
retracted credits. She decided to get in
touch with the Office of the Registrar
to clear up the discrepancy.
Since then, McConnell said she has
sent out 12 different e-mails to various
employees in the Registrar's office and
other departments. Some people have
not responded, others have told her
to contact someone else. She said she
was sent from department to depart-
ment, never getting a clear answer
about how to proceed. She finally gave
up on gaining the credits this fall.
"I'm frustrated, mostly annoyed,"
McConnell said.
McConnell's sentiments echo the belief
shared by students that University offi-
cials are out of touch with students
whose lives are being affected daily by
administrative decisions.
"It's so large that nothing can ever get
done," she said.
So who makes decisions
around here?
Students have little knowledge about
University administrators, according
to the results of a recent informal sur-
vey conducted by The Michigan Daily of
approximately 100 students on campus.
Only one student knew who Provost Paul
Courant was, but he did not know what
Courant's job entails. But Courant said at a
big university, he is more concerned that
students maintain solid relationships with
their professors.
"If the University is working right, then
University students should not be aware of the
administration," Courant said.
One student knew there were eight people
who sat on the University of Board of
Regents, although no one knew that their
terms lasted eight years. Six students were
able to name at least one regent. Larry Deitch
(D-Bingham Farms) and Rebecca McGowan
(D-Ann Arbor), who have both been on the
Board for 10 years, were most mentioned.
Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) said
she was not surprised that she was unknown
among the student body.
"I know that when I was in college, I

By Jeremy Berkowitz
Daily Staff Reporter

didn't know anybody who was on the
board," Maynard said.
Four people recognized E. Royster Harper
as the Vice President for Student Affairs, and
one person knew that part of her job is to
supervise many student activities.
While not one of the 81 students surveyed
who are in the College of Literature, Science
and the Arts recognized the name of Terrence
McDonald, interim LSA dean, five out of the
12 students interviewed who are not in LSA
knew the name of their dean.
"It's the smaller school effect," Courant
said, adding that schools such as the School of
Natural Resources and Environment and
School of Kinesiology are comparable to the
size of departments in LSA.
Music School Dean Karen Wolff said one
of her jobs as dean is to oversee the quality of
her faculty, which teaches the approximately
1,000 students enrolled in the college. She
said she would not know how well the faculty
were doing if she did not maintain close con-
tact with the students who they teach. She
does this by attending performances and
meeting with student groups.
"I certainly wouldn't pretend to know
all (the students), but I know quite a few,"
Wolff said.
Was it always like this?
om its inception in 1817 until the
e arly1940s, the University was a
mall Midwestern college with only a
few thousand students. The deans and presi-
dent had offices in Angell Hall, and it was not
uncommon for students to see the president
going to his office in the morning. University
Archivist Nancy Bartlett said President James
Angell, who served for 38 years, was able to
point out students individually.
"He was on a first-name basis with stu-
dents," Bartlett said. "He was very much a
beloved figure of the University."
Bartlett added that Marion Burton, presi-
dent from 1920-1925, was also a favorite of
the students and had many progressive ideas
for the future of the University. After he died,
Burton Tower was built in his memory.
As the University grew, presidents still
attempted to reach out to students in
other ways.

"President (Harlan) Hatcher and his wife
were well regarded for inviting students into
their home for tea," Bartlett said. Hatcher
served as president from 1951 until 1967.
But the post World War II era allowed a
large influx of students to attend colleges.
The University population grew from
17,000 to 37,000 students during Hatcher's
term. The LSA Building on State Street was
constructed in 1948 and more faculty were
hired to accommodate the larger student
body. To facilitate University officials and to
open up space in Angell Hall, the now-
named Fleming Administration Building
was constructed in the mid-1960s. As a
result, the relationship between the adminis-
tration and students eroded.
"The administration has grown as the Uni-
versity has grown," Bartlett said. "It certainly
presents a risk that the bigger the University
becomes, it is harder to continue to create a
certain shared sense of belonging."
How can we improve?
tudents and administrators tend to
agree that the University is too big
now to allow for the intimacy that
used to be prevalent.
"You lose something by being big,"
Courant said. "When you have 39,000 stu-
dents, that's not the way it's going to be."
But Courant also said the University
has grown in the past 50 years to be one
of the most highly regarded research uni-
versities in the world. "The University has
benefited greatly from being big," he said.
LSA sophomore Matt Cassidy said he
agrees with Courant's assessment that it is
difficult to promote interaction with offi-
cials at such a big school.
"It just makes it harder by the sheer
numbers," Cassidy said.
But Cassidy and other students said they
would like to see more outreach from Uni-
versity officials to hear students' opinions.
Although some said they are aware of e-
mails and occasional meetings, there needs
to be more.
"I feel like administrators live in their
happy little worlds where everything is per-
fect," McConnell said. "I really don't see them
around campus doing anything."

But Courant said he frequents campus
events, attending faculty meetings and talking
with various students. He likes to walk
through campus and talk with people whether
it be in Angell Hall or in line at Espresso
Royale Cafe on South State Street, but admit-
ted he does not have as much direct contact
with students as he used to when he was a
Maynard said although she lives two
hours away, she frequently tries to come to
campus and speak with students, usually
at meetings at the Michigan League or the
Michigan Union. She has discussed topics
ranging from residence hall security to
tuition increases.
"Undergraduate students are one of the rea-
sons (the regents) exist. If you're going to
govern that organization, you need to listen-to
why they want to exist," Maynard said.
But Maynard is one of eight regents
and said she could not speak on whether
her fellow board members remain as
active as she does.
"I think some do and some don't. I think it
just depends on where their commitments are
beyond the University campus," she said,
adding that every regent has said talking with
students is a valuable experience.
To improve communication, LSA sopho-
more Neeraj Sathe said he would like to see
more town meetings or surveys distributed on
the sidewalk. One issue that concerns him is
tuition increases, which happen every year.
The regents voted last July to increase tuition
by 7.9 percent for this school year.
"I want to see where they allocate money
to," Sathe said. "I want to know why they
need so much money."
While McConnell has heard of such open
meetings with officials, she said she feels they
are not well publicized and only people who
are involved in campus politics attend.
"(They) attract a very specific group of
students," she said, adding that she does not
have any particular ideas about how students
can be in contact with administrators.
But she said she feels it is their job to
figure it out.
McConnell did say she was pleased
with University President Mary Sue Cole-
man's efforts to hold fireside chat meet-
ings, although she is still unsure if
Coleman will succeed.
"I don't know how she's going to run
things," McConnell said. "The administra-
tion has grown as the University has grown."


Appointed: June 1999


0 Responsibilities: Chancellor Mestas is the chief executive officer of the Flint campus.
He represents the campus in front of the University Board of Regents and reports to Presi-


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