The Minutes of Our Last Meeting | The Columbia College Provost Says Goodbye
Town Hall Meeting with Stanley T. Wearden, Senior Vice-President and Provost
The Conaway Center, Columbia College Chicago
Attendance: 300 chairs were set up. 23 students attended. Snacks were provided.
Stanley: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming out to my little Town Hall meeting. It’s great to see such a fantastic turnout for my official good-bye to Columbia College.
I have learned a lot during my time as provost. For one, I learned what a provost is. According to Wikipedia, “A provost is the chief academic officer and is responsible for the creation and implementation of academic priorities and for the allocation of resources that will support those priorities.” Wow! I thought that’s what a president did!?! What the heck was Kim doing while I was provosting? I have no idea. Although, he is getting that building built that students who are no longer here said they really, really wanted. Can’t wait until I start my new job as president of Methodist University. It’s a salary bump and less work. I’ll have my own provost.
I was a double-threat while here because I was also a senior vice-president, and let me tell you, Wikipedia was not helpful about that. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. But like all the vice-presidents at Columbia, it brought in a nice six-figure salary on top of my other six-figure salary. I felt a little guilty about it, so, once in a while I’d clean the breakroom and buy donuts. You know, VP stuff.
I have had an awesome run here over the last four years. I believe I made a big impact. Class sizes increased so you all got to meet more fellow students. You will be bonded by your shared educational experiences, creative collaborations, and crippling debt.
Tip from a professional, as soon as you graduate, go for one of those Columbia College VP jobs. We go through so many they had to install a turnstile.
I’ve been getting some flak from people saying we no longer focus on students being taught by working professionals. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every teacher in every classroom is 100% a professional teacher. Some of them are so good at their job, they have two or three other jobs as a teacher. They are in demand and we are happy to have them be 5% or less of our annual budget.
I also helped expand our graduate program and we will have grad students teach you as much as possible. They cost less and they are closer to your age. They get you. They know what it’s like to be a student because they still are one.
As provost, I worked closely with Deans and Chairs to tell them what I wanted them to do, which was to cut essential staff, fire revered yet somehow unqualified teachers that just happen to be at the high end of the pay scale, increase the workload of fulltime teachers, eliminate classes and stream-line curriculums. We have been accused of “dumbing down” classes. That’s absurd. Let me ask you this, did we “dumb down” or did the students “smart up”? Our retention and graduation rates are high-er and you have to work pretty hard to get a quality education in these conditions. You have to show up to most of your classes, do most of your work, and, be assured, I was always on your side for you to get a grade based on whatever small amount you managed to do. We want you to finish school and keep paying for it as long as possible.
When I got here, Columbia’s motto was “Make Change” which sounded too much like we were promising jobs in the retail industry. So, no way. We aren’t promising anything. We changed the motto to “Shape What’s Next” which I encourage all you students to do. Get your fingers in there and mush things around. Get consent first.
I want you to know, when it comes to problems with Title IX or incidences of inequity or racism, I hear you. Well, I heard you. I heard all your voicemail messages. Not personally. I’m sure someone will go through them. Maybe the new guy. Or gal, I’m not sexist!
Now, I am leaving before the completion of the Strategic Five-Year Plan I implemented is complete. That’s okay, I know how it ends. Yikes! Spoiler alert – the entire fashion department is going to be put on-line - replaced by an etsy account. Pure profit. The entire radio department is going to be turned into a Starbucks. Students will be able to curate the music they play, as long as they keep their Rewards card loaded. I know I shouldn’t leave before it’s all done, but I also walked out before the end of “Infinity War”. In Infinity War, half the people of the universe just disappear. With the Five-Year plan, 50% of the union’s members have disappeared. They have gone from 1200 members to 600. (snaps fingers) I don’t know who is Thanos in this situation, me or Kim, but I do know Spider-man ain’t coming back. You’re welcome.
The union will have you think that I am all for the administration breaking the union. One of the reasons they cite is because I never showed up to any bargaining sessions. Two things about that… Uh, that wasn’t on the Wikipedia page. Also, most of the meetings were on Friday. Friday was job search day. Got to get those resumes out.
So, to be clear, I’m not anti-union. I’m also not anti-anti-union.
Come visit me at Methodist University in North Carolina. Their student/faculty ratio is 12:1 and the average class size is 15. Boy, am I going to eff things up there! They are going to think they got hit by a plague of locusts. There’s no union and I can claim all my changes are God’s will. Go Monarchs!
Now, usually in a Town Hall format, there’s an opportunity for you to ask questions. Ha! Buh-Bye!
Enjoy the free snacks your tuition paid for!