The Colgate Scene
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Considering the future
|by Charles Karelis, President|
Over the course of my first year and a half at Colgate I have had the pleasure
of meeting and corresponding with many alumni, parents of students and friends
of the college. Still, time and distance limit my ability to meet as many of
you as I would hope, so I have asked the Scene for a regular space where
I can share my thoughts about our college. This first column will be longer
than my usual expectation because I have some catching up to do.|
Much of this installment will be devoted to our aspirations for Colgate as they are described in the report of a committee that spent two years planning for the college's future. But first, some thoughts and observations:
Colgate is as welcoming a place as I have known. Since the day I arrived on campus in July 1999, students, faculty and staff have shared with me their knowledge of and affection for this college. On the road, alumni and parents have taken me into their homes and greeted me at their functions. Before I arrived I'd been told about the "hello tradition," and I've found it to be in full practice, not only on campus, but wherever Colgate people congregate -- it is a manifestation of the Colgate Spirit.
That spirit was tested mightily last fall. First, on a weekend when Colgate people from across the eras had gathered to pay tribute to the long and fruitful life of one of the college's great presidents, Everett Needham Case, we learned that the young and dynamic chairman of our Board of Trustees, Wm Brian Little '64, had died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 58. There is a close fraternity among the college's presidents. Vince Barnett, Tom Bartlett, George Langdon, Neil Grabois and I were all on campus for the Case memorial service, and we learned together of Brian's passing. On a day when we had gathered to celebrate the life's work of Everett Case, we were all struck by the loss of Brian in his prime.
Two months later the college endured a horrible tragedy when four young people died in an automobile accident on Oak Drive. First-year student Katie Almeter from Norwich died in the crash along with two of her best high school friends, Hobart and William Smith students Rachel Nargiso and Emily Collins, and Kevin King of Troy, NY, who was visiting campus. Elke Wagle '04, who suffered serious injuries in the crash, has made a wonderful recovery and returned to campus this semester.
Alcohol abuse contributed to that fatal accident. Alcohol abuse was also a factor in an intolerable campus brawl last semester that led to the closing of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity for four years.
One great strength of residential liberal arts colleges is the opportunity they afford for students to grow and mature outside the classroom through their interactions with their fellow students, faculty members, staff and the residents of the larger community in which they live. With more than 100 student organizations, a variety of living options, volunteer affiliations, athletic and recreational activities that cover the spectrum from outdoor recreation to varsity competition at the Division I level, Colgate offers a range of extracurricular options that is unsurpassed. At their January meeting, the members of the college's Board of Trustees asked the chairs of four standing committees -- student affairs, academic and faculty affairs, admission and financial aid, and athletics -- to form a task force of trustees, faculty, students, parents, and administrative staff to look in depth at Colgate's campus culture and identify areas where we can become even stronger. Ralph Verni '64 is chairing that effort, and you are certain to hear more about the work of the task force in the months ahead.
Also at their January meeting, the board elected John Golden '66 (see his interview) to succeed Brian Little as chair. John has been a leader on the board for seven years and he brings intelligence, energy and a deep appreciation and understanding of Colgate to this vital position.
The college is indebted to Bruce Calvert '68, vice chairman of the board, who performed the duties of chairman in the interim and continues as vice chair. Bruce was in the chair in November when the board considered the recommendations contained in the planning committee report that appears on the following three pages.
The future is ours in Little Hall where associate professor of art and art history Lynn Schwarzer works with a student in the printmaking studio.
The planning effort was initiated during a board retreat in July 1998 and
concluded in early fall 2000. The goal bears repeating here: "To improve
Colgate academically -- both in actuality and in perception -- relative to its
peers." For an institution that is already acknowledged to be among the top 20
liberal arts institutions in the country, that is a lofty goal, but the
trustees knew that to aspire to anything less was to deny the college the
distinction it deserves.|
The report identifies "four special targets of opportunity," which I will summarize here:
Colgate is a strong college, poised for even greater distinction. I look forward with optimism to what we will be able to achieve together as this new century unfolds.
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