Let's Welcome the New President

The Board has announced Dr. Joseph Urgo, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Hamilton College, as the next President of St. Mary’s College.

After the abrupt end of the lengthy search process last semester and the secret new process, the Board demonstrated an unwillingness to be a transparent governing body. As evident by comments on The Point News Web site, Facebook posts and conversations with students, the process lacked the integrity and openness that students desire.

I can’t help but once again point out the irony of unilaterally scraping a fair and open process with a clear favorite for a closed, secret process when the arguments against the first clear favorite were that he would be autocratic and unwilling to listen to students. That said, as much as I would truly love to keep berating the Board for the inappropriate and disappointing way they made the most important decision they have had to make in years, it is over.

As students, we must welcome and support the new President. If we take our frustrations about the Board’s process out on Dr. Urgo, we risk demonstrating that the Board was somehow justified in not involving students in this decision.

Since new Presidents generally begin by laying out their vision for the school, let us begin by laying out what is most important to students. For me, the top priority must be creating a decision-making structure, from top to bottom, that frames each decision in terms of how it will affect students and how it can involve them in each decision.

The second priority has to be keeping tuition and other costs as low as possible. We understand that costs must go up; looking at the University of Maryland system’s tuition freeze over the past few years we know they must go up. The key is to make sure that cost increases are reasonable and that we do not see a 5+ percent jump in a single year.

Finally, we should favor improving current operations over new construction. I love the new boathouse, and replacing Anne Arundel would be great, but the school and students can function just as well without both. Students can’t function as well with slow internet, cold showers and reduced ARC hours.

The Point News would like to invite you to tell us what you think Dr. Urgo should focus on at thepointnews.com/president.

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