President Jill Tiefenthaler talks about campus renovations, the strategic plan, her Halloween costume and Loomis.
Why did we renovate our sports complex before an academic building on campus?
In the last plan for Vision 2020, the three buildings that were laid out for renovation were Cornerstone, El Pomar and the library. The library is our next big one. El Pomar was about half the cost to renovate compared to the library, and given that they didn’t raise the money for that during the last campaign, I think it has to be a big campaign goal. The sports center was funded by donations, and we raised over $20 million on that… The last time we looked at it the library was going to cost about $50 million dollars, and it was, “Do we keep raising the funds or do what we can do now?”
It is rumored that the block plan is in jeopardy as a consequence of the strategic planning meeting. Is our pillar educational standpoint being threatened?
That’s a silly rumor. The block plan is not on the table and anyone who has read my listening document, it outlines how one of our biggest strengths is the block plan. The learning strategy is all built all around how we enhance the block plan.
So how do we enhance the block plan?
We want to support students and faculty and look at how we can be even more flexible. So more off-campus blocks and how we think about how we pay for those. Can we put program fees in there and create more programs and innovations for students? One of the things is how could we have more presence elsewhere and more partnerships abroad which would allow people to do things in other places. Technology might help in the classroom more with the block, field experiences, research and venture grants are getting attention. Smaller classes is something that is getting looked at… Lots of things are on the table, but we are just getting ideas so they can rise to the top.
For someone who has taught on the block plan, what is the toughest aspect of it?
It’s hard both keeping yourself up and your class up each day, and getting stuff back to students. On the semester a paper or something you could wait a week or so, even two weeks because you have a semester to return it. Now you’re getting everything back and at the same time also getting ready for the next day… Just the intensity and the turn around time, that has been something.
When will the Strategic Plan be compiled?
The Board has asked that we bring the plan to them at their July retreat this summer.
We’re looking at probably something like seven to ten years for the whole thing. It depends. But the idea is in a plan but also in a campaign to raise money for it.
On a lighter note, what will you be wearing on Halloween this year?
Actually I will be wearing a gorilla suit.
One thing that students complain about a lot is how slow Tigernet2 is. Will that be a part of the strategic plan?
I hadn’t heard that yet, so I’m glad you brought that up to me today. I encourage students to get that on the table because that’s important. I’m sure our IT folks are aware of some of those complaints, but actually it is the first time it has come to me… I want students to bring that and other complaints and interests to me.
With so many students with so many different opinions and changes they want at the college, how are you going to weigh all those voices?
The committees will take all the ideas for the initiatives and they will be required to prioritize them. Their job is not to come up with them, everyone thinks the committees are the ones generating the ideas. They will choose the ones they see. What we can’t do is have a laundry list for everybody, because we won’t be able to get all that done. We need to be able to pick and choose.
If you had to stay in one of the dorm or apartment rooms, which one would you choose?
Just on aesthetics, I would have to go with Western Ridge, just on the views and the look of them. But I hear that Loomis is a lot of fun, so I’m not sure. When I talk to students, there is so much spirit in Loomis. But when I looked at it I wouldn’t have thought that as the top, but I often hear how much fun it is.