Students discuss concerns about provost’s five-year plan
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 15:02
For more information on the provost's five year plan, visit the IC's online resource for Imagine 2017.
A number of students are expressing concern about the changes being made by the University of Toledo's main campus five-year plan, saying the administration has not provided enough information.
Some concerned students have written a letter questioning some of the proposed changes and plan to send it to Main Campus Provost Scott Scarborough. The letter was signed by students last week at a public forum.
Amanda Hurst, a film major and co-author of the letter, said she was concerned when she first heard about university budget cuts. Hurst said when she shared her worries with a professor who heard similar concerns from other students.
Hurst said she and several other film students decided to write the letter addressing several items that worry them, such as increased class sizes.
“As film majors it really affects us because we have small class sizes for a purpose,” Hurst said. “We don’t have that much film equipment and for the smaller classes everyone gets hands on experience with actually knowing the equipment. If there’s bigger classes of 30 or above, we’re not going to be able to use the equipment at the same capacity we are now.”
Under the five-year plan, titled Imagine 2017, classes that are meant to be smaller, especially those in the arts, will be granted exemptions to the “30 students minimum” rule if recommended by the necessary department chair and dean.
Scarborough said an effort has been made to include student leaders in the process of developing the plan.
“Over the 90-day period [of putting the plan together], we had Student Government, Student Senate, student trustees, Graduate Student Association — student leaders all involved in the development of the plan,” Scarborough said. “We felt like we got good input.”
However, Scarborough said the plan is not necessarily set in stone, and students should still voice their opinions.
“Every plan is a living document so it’s constantly changing,” Scarborough said. “We’ll be revisiting pieces daily. There are pieces of the plan that still need to go to the board for approval. They are still considering it a work in progress.”
Scarborough is planning to attend a public forum at the Student Government meeting Feb. 19 at 8:15 p.m. in Student Union Room 2592 to address student concerns with the Imagine 2017 plan.
“There are good answers to all the questions,” Scarborough said. “This plan is intended to make the student experience better. It’s all about them. Everything in this plan is to enhance the student experience.”
SG President Paulette Bongratz said she does not think the letter to the provost will impact his plan.
“The plan is already set in motion,” Bongratz said. “The faculty has already accepted the workload changes. All of the deans, the stuff they were supposed to turn in is due by this week and the provost and his office will be going through everything.”
Patrick Richardson, a senior majoring in marketing, also attended the letter signing forum and said some of the goals of the letter, like class size requirements, will be resolved, but not because of the letter.
“It’ll be achieved if they go through the actual process for the exemption. I’m sure that the provost would be willing to hear their case,” he said.
Richardson said he thinks communication between students and the administration has been open.
“The plan is public and it’s been online for a while, so any student could go on and read the entire plan cover to cover if they ever wanted to,” Richardson said. “It’s not like they’re trying to hide anything. It’s been very transparent and open and any student that’s curious can go read through the plan.”
Other students said despite the plan being available online, they were not made aware it existed to be looked up.
Cory Sprinkles, a freshman nursing major, said he did not even realize there were going to be cuts made to the faculty.
“I am actually appalled that none of us, the ones who help pay for this university, are not being told about this,” Sprinkles said. “I would like the people with whom we are paying for educations to tell us a little more and let us help make the decisions because it will affect us.”
Nico Covarrubias, a junior majoring in anthropology, said he had only heard about the cuts recently and all the information he had received had not been from the administration.
“If it wasn’t for some of the other students in anthropology, I wouldn’t have known,” Covarrubias said. “I mean it kind of does have an effect on us, especially students in small-numbered departments like anthropology.”
Hurst said there should be more information going to the students.
“They’re not giving detailed information about how they’re using your money,” Hurst said. “I don’t think that the way that they’re using their budgetary cuts, I don’t think they’re doing it correctly. I think it should be going out in the emails and letting us know.”
Scarborough said he has tried to keep students informed through initiatives such as his monthly YouTube videos called “Provost Corner.” So far, each of the five videos feature the provost himself discussing aspects of the five-year plan and how they impact students. The most recent segment, published Jan. 31, is about the rebranding of UT’s Honors College.