Gitenstein outlines College’s introspective focus for year

Students, faculty and staff can expect an introspective year at the College as three college-wide task forces exploring the role of the professor as a teacher/scholar, the concept of inclusive selectivity in the College’s admissions policies, and how the College’s campus and facilities are utilized over the summer, according to College President R. Barbara Gitenstein.

She outlined these goals for the 2005-06 academic year while also acknowledging the accomplishments of faculty, staff and students over the past year in her Welcome Back address last Wednesday in Kendall Hall.

She began her address by discussing the recent devastation in the south caused by Hurricane Katrina. “The unfathomable damage and loss of life that has befallen the Gulf Coast region of our country cannot be ignored,” she said.

She went on to talk about the actions that the College will take to help the hurricane victims, including contributions to the relief effort and the accommodation of displaced students from colleges and universities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“We will be reaching out to form institutional partnerships to help sister institutions,” she said.

Gitenstein talked about the importance of the College’s ongoing Sesquicentennial Celebration, from the torch run that started the yearlong event last September to the Grand Finale Homecoming Weekend that will conclude the event this October. She mentioned one of the final Sesquicentennial events, the upcoming Walt Whitman Symposium celebrating the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of “Leaves of Grass,” which will take place Sept. 22 to 24.

She said the celebration provided the College with “a platform upon which to build or renew relationships with countless members of the extended College community.” She said she hopes this will advance alumni relations and fund-raising through the office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

After the address, Jen Purdy, senior Spanish education major, said she agreed with Gitenstein’s statements about the celebration. “The Sesquicentennial did connect (the College) to our community. It made us better known,” she said.

Gitenstein congratulated the College on once again being named the top public insti tution in the northern region of the United States by U.S. News & World Report this year, marking the 12th consecutive year that the College earned the title.

For the first time last year, “Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges” included the College in its list of the 75 most competitive colleges and universities across the nation. “We are now in the company of that other college of New Jersey down the road,” she said.

Gitenstein also noted that an onsite evaluation team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued a report last winter, stating “(The College) is committed to offering an undergraduate educational experience that rivals the best of what is offered by private colleges, but at a public school tuition cost and from a public school perspective.”

Gitenstein also said the new curriculum that brought about the academic transformation was a success. The office of Academic Affairs will continue to enhance and refine the transformation during 2005-06, according to Gitenstein.

Along with the New Library, Gitenstein said the completion of the new athletic facilities and the Metzger Drive Apartments will also enhance the beauty of the campus.

Gitenstein also discussed the tuition increase forced upon the College by lower budget allocations from the state.

“It is a primary goal of ours, as a public institution, to provide access and opportunity to New Jersey’s most promising students, regardless of their financial circumstance,” she said.

Gitenstein said the College kept this year’s tuition increase below that of almost all other New Jersey public institutions. “We hope to continue to moderate tuition rates in the future, but we must deliver the quality of education our students deserve.”

According to Gitenstein, the College was not as successful as it wanted to be with its private fund-raising last year, but hopes to see improvement with the addition of new staff members in the office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

Gitenstein talked about the challenge that the ongoing construction has caused the campus.

“Delays in the completion of the student apartment complexes forced many students to accept less attractive residential options than any of us would have wanted,” she said.

After the address, Heather Roessler, junior psychology major, said “I am glad that President Gitenstein mentioned the delays in the apartment complexes. She is right, a lot of students are living in less attractive housing. But at least the administration realizes that the students are making a sacrifice.”

Gitenstein concluded her address by challenged the campus community “to imagine the impossible as we remain true to our bold mission and mandate to serve New Jersey and the nation.”