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By Ashleigh Fernandez – Staff Writer

There have been multiple concerns about the Preliminary Report for Drew2017, which was recently released by the Steering Committee. The Drew2017 Town Hall meeting, which was held on Wednesday, saw a huge crowd of Drewids, incuding students, faculty, staff and alumni who sought to express their discontent about the possible elimination of particular academic programs.

Michael Groener, the CFO at Drew, brought up the three objectives of Drew2017, the first of which is to prioritize committee responsibilities. The second objective is to review and reorganize the administration and the third is the three-year budget planning.

A Finalized Preliminary Report will be released on March 28 to allow the Steering Committee time to review and discuss changes before distribution. This report will include a projection for 2015 and summary conclusions that relate to the budget. “What can I say about the budget for 2015?” Groener asked. “Drew must have as close to a balanced budget as possible by the end of the fiscal year 2017.”

“We cannot cut our way out of this financial crisis. The logical conclusion is to allow Drew to grow by attracting more students and creating new programs. With INTO, we are naming ourselves an international school. How is it going to look when we cut all our international studies programs?” —Jonathan Rose, professor of history on the possible elimination of the History and Culture Ph.D. program.

Many individuals at the Town Hall meeting had much to say about the Preliminary Report released on March 5. “We cannot cut our way out of this financial crisis. The logical conclusion is to allow Drew to grow by attracting more students and creating new programs. With INTO, we are naming ourselves an international school. How is it going to look when we cut all our international studies programs?” Jonathan Rose from the History & Culture Ph.D program stated.

Many of the speakers emphasized the fact that their programs generated profit and felt as though it would be more logical for Drew to keep the programs. Rose specifically mentioned that the History & Culture Graduate Program in 2014 earned a profit of approximately $2,600. Peter Mably, a student of the History & Culture program, also outlined his concerns.

“Why is a program that is making so much money being eliminated?” he questioned, “The only problem with this program would be that there is a poor job market for the Humanities Ph.D. However, for the students that find this field of study their passion, it is hard for them to accept the changes that the preliminary report stated.”

Jacqueline Hart, president of Graduate Student Association, brought up her issues with the elimination of the Master of Fine Arts in Poetry (MFA) Program. “There are no other MFA programs that allow students to focus mainly on poetry. This program receives more publicity than any other and it would be a very big loss to us,” she expressed.

Jane Sartel, who also spoke in defense of the MFA program, stated that it is a premier program around the world. “It has only been here for 5 years,” Sartel said.  “Because of the stature of the faculty and the accomplishments of the students, it really does deserve to be evaluated because it will benefit the international students who will be coming in.”

Many students are quite upset about the elimination of the programs that broaden their minds on an international level, such as Pan-African Studies. Khemani Gibson (‘13), a student who majors in Pan-African Studies, History and Spanish, expressed his feelings at the Town Hall meeting in regards to this. “Pan-African Studies was one of the first programs I stuck with,” he stated. He continued by declaring that the Pan-African Studies Department itself does not have many courses, and the courses from other departments required for the major are expected to still exist. “How expensive is the program that you have to cut these few courses that allow the Pan-African Studies program to exist at Drew?” he questioned.

“For an institution that tries to embody a liberal arts education, they are saying that this course is not that important and that’s what got me kind of upset.” —Khemani Gibson (‘13)

Gibson also mentioned the importance of students possessing the skills to understand the racial incidents that occur in the United States everyday and having a better understanding of people and their respective cultures. “For an institution that tries to embody a liberal arts education, they are saying that this course is not that important and that’s what got me kind of upset. Pan-African Studies enabled me to study in two countries, the Dominican Republic and South Africa,” he stared. Lastly, Gibson stated that most of the graduate schools he applied to accepted him due to the skills he gained from his Pan-African Studies major.

Dr. Carol Ueland, a professor from the Russian Department, provided some statistics describing why the Russian Studies major should not be eliminated. “Probably 30-40 students a year study Russian,” she stated. “What we are asking INTO students to do is complete immersion. Why do Chinese students hang out with other Chinese students? It’s because they need other students who understand their language and culture. How will they feel coming to a school without programs that incorporate their culture?” Ueland also expressed that the Russian Program has 700 alums and now that it is up for elimination, four students have already left Drew.

In response to all the concerns expressed by individuals connected to these Programs, the Steering Committee created a webpage set up for Drew 2017: https://www.drew.edu/drew2017/, where helpful information can be found, such as the preliminary report. The first clarification the Steering Committee wanted to make to the Drew Community is that throughout the report, they speak of programs (majors, minors, graduate degrees etc.), not courses. Therefore, the elimination of a program will not result in the elimination of courses in that subject from the curriculum. In addition, the committee feels that the study of the historical and contemporary experiences of racial and religious minorities is of vital importance to a liberal arts curriculum. In addition, the committee believes that the study of the moral issues lying at the heart of humanistic learning and liberal arts education must continue to find a place in Drew’s course load.

The Steering Committee wants to emphasize that their recommendations for the academic programs are concerned with prioritizing them. They believe that the prioritization of programs will benefit all students by making Drew a financially sustainable institution, which will focus on providing all students with a quality educational experience.

In order to come to a decision of the best courses to eliminate, the committee gathered information through written reports required from each department and program on campus, both academic and administrative. Also, on the academic side, they received reports from the Dean’s Council of each of the three schools with their rankings of their own programs. With a great deal of discussion and debate, the committee voted on each of the programs and required a supermajority of two out of three before a program’s ranking was finalized.

A preliminary report with final recommendations will go to the President, Senior Administration and Trustees before final decisions are made.

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By Phillipe AbiYouness – Staff Writer

After months of deliberative meetings and discussions, Drew University has further opened its doors to the international world by officially signing an agreement with INTO University Partnerships.

This agreement will allow Drew to bring in a larger number of international students to its campus. As elucidated in a statement released by President for the Interim Term Vivian A. Bull, the university is expecting to bring in 130 new international students to campus in the Fall 2014 Term.This will increase Drew’s standing as a university that operates on a fairly international scale, as it brought in about 40 international students in the most recent freshman class.

International students will take one of three paths of education once at Drew University explained by Sara Waldron, dean of Student Life & Campus Affairs. Firstly, there is the possibility of “direct admission for those who have proficiency in English,” and the other two programs allow students to either combine English proficiency training with an academic program or to focus solely on the English preparation.

“This is an opportunity that students are going to jump on, being able to go to a school like this and explore New York while taking advantage of Drew’s academic programs.” —John Ferrara, Drew’s international admissions representative

After two years, students will be given the option to either stay at Drew or transfer to either a school that has an articulation agreement with Drew or an INTO partner school.The notion of signing an agreement with INTO first appealed to University officials in 2013 when INTO expressed an interest in Drew because of its proximity to New York and its liberal arts standing.

In pursuing this potential partnership, the university held a series of meetings with INTO officials to negotiate a solid partnership. Last month, during the finalizing stages of this agreement, Drew was visited by 90 recruiters from INTO for four days so representatives from the program could get a more solidified image of Drew and what it had to offer.

INTO also has partnership agreements with Colorado State University, Oregon State University, the University of South Florida, Marshall University and George Mason University. This makes Drew the first small liberal arts school that is located near the New York Metropolitan area to sign with this pathways program.

“It was kind of going into unexplored waters because all of this had to be mapped out clearly so that we could plan ahead,” said International Admissions Representative John Ferrara. “This is an opportunity that students are going to jump on, being able to go to a school like this and explore New York while taking advantage of Drew’s academic programs.”

While university officials expressed confidence in the benefits this agreement will bring to Drew, students did not immediately take a liking to this program.

“Students I’ve spoken with were skeptical at first.  However, we spoke with SG and have met with individual students about concerns,” said Waldron. “As more information became available, I believe many students are excited about the positive changes that can occur in the community, both academically and socially, with more international students on campus.”

Students have voiced a variety of differing opinions on the solidification of this recent agreement.

“I think it’s good, but I think it will be weird if the whole school is filled with international students. To be honest I’m kind of indifferent,” said Rachel Rubin (’17).

“A big issue will be to try to find a way to not make them [the new INTO students] feel alienated on campus,” said Khalil Van-Sertima (’15). “Not only are they at college but they’re in a different country. We have to help facilitate their adjustment.”

Ferarra assured that the admission of new international students would not affect the standing of domestic students and applicants.

“Our goal here at admissions is to bring students in for direct admission at Drew, that’s not gonna change especially with domestic territories,” he said. “We hold the same standards for international students as well as domestic, in terms of financial aid and scholarship. We want to award our students for the work that they’re doing, whether they’re domestic or international.”

Overall, Drew University faculty has emphasized the potential benefit that this agreement will bring to the university, diversifying and enriching the campus and student population.

The first group of INTO international students will arrive on campus at the start of the next fall semester. The university hopes to reach a number of 500 enrolled INTO international students in the next five years.

“The INTO partnership is an exciting venture for the Drew community and helps us build on our longstanding international programs at home and abroad, including launching the first United Nations Semester in the country in 1962,” said Bull in an article published in the Madison Eagle. “Inviting more international undergraduates to join the Drew community offers the rest of the student body the opportunity to learn with, and from, their global peers, giving them an advantage in a highly connected world.”

 

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By Janel Gist – Assistant News Editor

The Drew2017 preliminary report has called for the elimination of 12 minors, four majors and five other programs currently offered at Drew. The proposed cuts have caused outrage with students who plan to major or minor in any of these areas. These cuts are not final, and the report was presented to the Drew community, University Senate, the three Dean’s Councils and the student governments for feedback and response. The response to these cuts has been anger and outrage from students which was seen at Wednesday’s Town Hall Meeting and through other forums of feedback from students.

One of the possible eliminations is the Dance minor, which has caused a lot of outrage from current students and alumni. There is currently a “Save the Drew University Dance Minor!” group on Facebook with 361 members that features testimonials from former Drew Dance minors and current students on the importance of preserving the minor. Rosemary McLaughlin, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, explained, “we are the Theatre and Dance department because Dance is an essential part of who we are and what we do.  Dance is a thriving Minor at Drew, with 12-15 students in any given year, making it larger than many CLA majors.”

“I think it’s ridiculous these programs may be cut. I understand German is not a huge major compared to business or economics, but the language itself is so vital in today’s international economy.” —Stephi Danckert (’14)

Alexandra Brown (’14) shared how being a Dance minor has enriched her experience at Drew. “Being a dance minor at Drew has helped me become more confident. Through my participation in the Dance minor, I have learned new things about myself through the challenges I have had to face, either learning a dance or creating one in choreography. The opportunities that I have been given through this program, I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”

Other areas of study in danger of being cut include languages, particularly the German major and Russian minor. Stephi Danckert, a German and History double major (’14) expressed, “I think it’s ridiculous these programs may be cut. I understand German is not a huge major compared to business or economics, but the language itself is so vital in today’s international economy. Germany has one of the world’s leading economies and is helping to increase research in the sciences. The language is spoken in several countries in Europe and is used in a variety of disciplines (philosophy, sciences, music, etc.)”

Besides languages and the Dance minor, the Classics major is also in danger of being cut. Classics is a liberal art tradition, and the study of Greek and Roman literature and language has been a part of liberal arts educations since the beginning. Caitlin Mattera (’14) said about the loss of the Classics major, “I’m really disappointed that Classics might be eliminated in the next few years because studying the Classics has been an important part of my education here at Drew. I think Classics is a really important component of a well-rounded, liberal arts education.  In my Classics classes, I have studied ancient literature, language, religion, history, art, architecture, philosophy and science. I hope that students will continue taking courses and minoring in Classics so Drew doesn’t lose this vital element from our campus.”

Other programs that could be cut include a lot of the diversity-centered minors like the Asian Studies major and minor, European Studies minor, Holocaust Studies minor, Jewish Studies minor, Latin American Studies minor, Middle Eastern Studies minor and Pan-African Studies major. Aiyanna Davis (‘17) a political science major interested in the Middle Eastern Studies minor said, “the Middle Eastern Studies program is one of the things that drew me to this school. Wanting to go into international politics, it is important to have these programs. The Middle East is and is going to continue to be an important area of the world to understand and connect with. Young people, like students at Drew, need to begin to understand this, and cutting these programs is just going to prevent us from getting a chance to do so.”

The MFA Program in Poetry is one of Drew University’s solutions, not one of its problems. Poetry is a vital aspect to any Liberal Arts Institution that wants to be taken seriously as such. The only reason put forward by the Steering Committee to eliminate the MFA Program was financial. —Sean Nevin, director of the MFA program in poetry & poetry translation.

Several other programs also face elimination including the Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry which is a very successful program at Drew. The program has produced many alumni who have published books and won awards. Sean Nevin, Director of the MFA in Poetry & Poetry in Translation said “The MFA Program in Poetry is one of Drew University’s solutions, not one of its problems. Poetry is a vital aspect to any Liberal Arts Institution that wants to be taken seriously as such. The only reason put forward by the Steering Committee to eliminate the MFA Program was financial. Yet, in the past eighteen months the MFA has begun to turn a profit and has implemented several strategies which will increase future revenue even more significantly.”

Other areas of study in jeopardy include the Bio-anthropology major, Public Health minor, Linguistics Studies minor, Medieval Studies minor and World Literature minor. Programs that face elimination include the Education program at Saint Elizabeth’s and History & Culture Ph.D.

The elimination of any program will affect students in some way, and the community has until March 28 to provide input and campaign to save various programs. The committee will meet again after that to make changes to the preliminary report that will eventually be incorporated into the final report and become a reality.

 

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By Leah Zarra – Managing Editor

Last night the winners of the Student Government (SG) General  elections were revealed. Hetika Shah (’15) was announced as SG President with running mate Dylan Jones (’15), beating out preidential/vice-presidential candidates Mark Patronella (’15) and Khalil Sertima (’15) by 14 votes, and Omaru Washington (’15) and Midori Tagawa (’15) by 28 votes.

Candidates Thomas Butschi (’15) and Andrei Kovacs (’15) went out of the running after losing the primary election on Tuesday.

Michael Gualtieri (’16) was as well elected to chair the SOAB and Raphael Tshitoko (’15) elected to chair the B&A. Jones said it was “the most highly contested election since the inception of Student Government three years ago.”

Shah and Jones have both been involved with SG since their freshman years, showing they are “very dedicated to Drew University and Student Government,” as stated by Jones. Shah has served as a senator, executive secretary and chief of staff as well as being involved with other organizations, on campus such as SASA (South Asian Student Association) and the Dining committee.

Jones has been the SG elections chair, a member of the steering committee and is currently the only student representative to Drew2017. Things that the team plans to address in their term include: merging SOAB with B&A, challenging the room-rental charges recently imposed by facilities, bringing back TOE (The Other End) and increasing school spirit.

At the SG primary debate on Monday night in which all candidates shared their platforms, Shah said she wants to have more “student fun nights” and offer cupcakes, ice cream and other treats to get students excited and involved. “It’s a great way to talk to a lot of students and hear their concerns,” Shah said.

Jones suggested putting prizes in blue and green balloons around campusas a way to increase school spirit and improve outreach to students who may not normally know about SG meetings and events.

Gualtieri would like to push for clubs to have a louder voice in SG, since they “represent people who don’t really have a voice otherwise.” He noted the poor turnout at many school events, something he is disappointed by. “There should be people asking questions and staying informed, but nobody pays attention to what’s going on,” he said. Addressing a poor retention rate and hopes of improving that, Gualtieri upheld that “collaboration is the key.”

When asked what the candidates wish their lasting legacy to be, Shah replied that she wants to be remembered as a great leader on campus. “I want to be known as the one who reached out to every student and let them know they could come to me for help,” she said. Tshitoko added that he wants to “promote an environment that is a community that people feel comfortable and content living in… We should be a very proud student body—we need to proliferate that idea.”

Current SG President Andrew Bishop (’14) expressed, “I was very pleased with the turnout for this election.  I think that SG could improve on getting the word out that elections are happening for next year to make sure that we have even more turnout than we had this year.” He added that “all candidates did a really phenomenal job campaigning, and I’m quite pleased with how everything turned out.”

Bishop, Vice President Carmine Biancamano, and the whole of SG have expressed thanks to Attorney General Michael Pellessier (’15) and Elections Chair Nycole Nurse (‘16) for their hard work and dedication in organizing the election.

Tshitoko said, “I’m quite ecstatic.  I’m excited for the coming semester as well as working together with my new senate.”

Shah added, “we’re super-excited to get started on this. I’m really proud of all the candidates and students that participated.  We had a great voter turnout.”

Shah and Jones will be officially sworn in on Sunday at Crawford Hall at 7 p.m.

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By Philipe AbiYouness – Staff Writer

After months of searching and deliberating, Drew has officially closed the door on one of this academic year’s most talked about decisions: the selection of Drew’s 12th president.

The Board of Trustees, with the recommendation of the presidential search committee, has announced its selection of MaryAnn Baenninger, current president of the College of Saint Benedict of St. Joseph, Minn., as the next president of Drew University. Once Baenninger assumes the position of Drew’s 12th president on July 21, she will be the first full-term woman to be Drew’s president in its entire history.

According to Andrew Bishop, student government president, The Presidential Search Committee (PSC) met on Feb. 14 to discuss and make the decision to recommend Baenninger to the Board of Trustees. The official approval by the Board of Trustees was made on Friday, February 21. “The Drew community provided the PSC with a great deal of thoughtful feedback on all three candidates,” says Bishop. “Many made observations that we found quite insightful, adding to the depth and quality of conversation the committee had while discussing each candidate.”

The search officially started moving in May 2013, when the Presidential Search Committee was created appointed by the Board of Trustees. Beginning with a pool of 110 applicants, the PSC worked to narrow that number down to eight individuals who were invited to campus to be interviewed. Eventually, the committee decided on three “finalist” candidates.

“Once I got to know Drew better, and once I spent time on campus with the trustees, the faculty, the staff and the students, it just felt right. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.” —MaryAnn Baenninger

Baenninger, 58, has served since 2004 as the 14th president of the College of Saint Benedict, a women’s Catholic liberal arts college in Minnesota. Her plans to retire from Saint Benedict on June 30 of this year happened to coincide with Drew’s search for a new president, which proved to fit into Baenninger’s plans for the future.  “My husband and I have loved our time in Minnesota, but we are ready to come home,”said Baenninger in her letter of candidacy. “The end of my decade of service at College of Saint Benedict coincides with the college’s Centennial, and precedes the public phase of our campaign. The timing is right for me and for the college. My departure is completely voluntary.”

She was the first of the three finalists to visit Drew in early February. Drew community members had the opportunity to meet and engage with her during constituent sessions throughout her visit and as well as during the Open Forum that was held for the entire community in which she gave a presentation on the “Value Proposition of the Liberal Arts.” At the forum, Baenninger emphasized the importance of a liberal arts education saying, “They [students] are choosing a route that can lead them to any career.”

At the same time, she acknowledged that this is a very difficult economic time for institutions like Drew. At a time when liberal arts schools are facing financial struggles, more and more parents and students are concerned over the value proposition of a college education—even more over the liberal arts—are factoring price into their decisions. Chris Taylor, interim dean of the college of liberal arts, commented at the forum that the public expects a lot from schools like Drew, but that it can be expensive to meet those expectations. Despite Drew being ranked 61 by Washington Monthly in their ‘2013 Best Bang for the Buck’ rankings, Baenninger responded, “It’s hard to convince people when it looks internally that it doesn’t have its act together.”

“I firmly believe that the strongest liberal arts institutions will thrive with the right leadership,” said Baenninger in her letter. “This is my life’s work, and it is work that I love.”

While at Saint Benedict, Baenninger was noted for improving its financial state by increasing the college’s overall revenue intake through gradually decreasing student enrollment. This decision actually made Saint Benedict much more selective, allowing it to improve the quality of its pool of applicants. She as well nearly doubled Saint Benedict’s endowment during her tenure. These are both accomplishments that may likely have been a determining factor in her selection by the Board of Trustees. By decreasing Saint Benedict’s enrollment in order to increase demand, Baeninnger followed a path that was unconventional. Her decision contrasts with the route Drew seems to be taking that will likely increase its student population, now with acceptance agreements made with Raritan Valley Community College and the County College of Morris, and a possible partnership with INTO University Partnerships.

However, Drew and Saint Benedict are different schools. A solution that would find success at one institution may not necessarily find success at the other, so it is unknown at this point, because of how early it is in the process, what strategies Baenninger may plan on implementing as Drew’s next president to alleviate Drew’s financial struggles.

During the forum, several community members as well voiced concern over the level of disconnect between the administration, the faculty, and students, in addition to the disconnect between Drew’s three schools: the College, the Caspersen school, and the Theological school. Baenninger emphasized that communication is important in building a bridge between different campus groups saying, “It is the responsibility of the president to make sure that communication works.”

Although she admitted to not having any faculty or administrative experience before taking the helm as Saint Benedict’s 14th president, Baenninger remarked she had approached her leadership “from the core.” As a self-confessed “big believer” in data & information, Baenninger stressed her “strong” work ethic. “I want the trustees not to manage me, but to have my back when I make decisions,” she said.

She identifies with the head-on approach that focuses on directly addressing the challenges the university is currently facing. “The Drew University Board and its community members recognize and have identified the challenges it faces from the external environment and from within Drew,” said Baenninger in her letter. “It needs a president that will face these challenges head-on.”

“As I began my search, Drew was one of a very small set of institutions where I felt there could be a match,”  said Baenninger in a statement released on Monday. “Once I got to know Drew better, and once I spent time on campus with the trustees, the faculty, the staff and the students, it just felt right. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”

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Jack Duran and Leah Zarra contributed to this report.

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