Comments and Questions from Listening Session with Bruce

Sociology Department

Sociology Department is a great group of faculty and staff who put students first and help mentor them.  Impressed that our students get as much attention as they need by the faculty and staff of the program.

Waterfront is a topic that has been lingering in people’s minds and what it might mean with regards to resource distribution with the change in administration.

I think that one of the problems is the panic regarding on budget cuts.  Things are changing dramatically.  How do we go in a direction where the economy comes to us rather that us reacting to the economy.  I feel that we would be looking at a 10% cut at the minimum.

Read in a magazine on the recovery of Cuba after the fall of Soviet Union.  In 10-15 years they turned it around.  On the higher education angle, they now offer PhD in animal husbandry.  They developed the political will to develop extreme responses in extreme financial times.  They creatively thought about how they could come out on top of their difficulties. 

Future of what we want Western to be…strength of Western lies with being a strong liberal arts residential university.  We need to remain a traditional liberal arts university.  Caution against expanding distance learning.  We should expand our graduate program.  Expand residential liberal arts programs.  Expand interdisciplinary programs.  Improve our research involving our undergraduate students.  It is a wonderful way for us to become involved in the community.  Important to strengthen our community/university bonds.

It seems to me that there might be an opportunity to re-create the university in a way that connects our students in a stronger way to the community.  How can our students help make Bellingham a stronger community.  Do we already have the resources available that can be used for important community projects?

Connection with having the students involved in the community means having a smaller student/teacher ratio.  In order to truly engage the students in a meaningful way with the community, we need the ability to have a lot of face time with the students.

One concern that faculty speak about often is enrollment management.

Western’s student to faculty ratio has been on a decline over the past few years but people don’t seem to feel that.

General Studies major is the second or third largest major in the university.  This is because too many of our students are unable to get into majors.  Need better help getting students into the programs they need to be in.

Supports the decision regarding football.

Focus on Bellingham as a place.  Would love to see more language as a requirement at the university to make students better prepared to be out in the world.  Foster the international flavor of our border community, the sustainability focus of Bellingham.

We had a faculty member who left to go to the University of North Carolina.  Believes that there was not an effort to retain him.  It was a significant blow to our department. Two of our outstanding faculty are on leave next year.  We have had our search frozen to replace the faculty member.  Our department has taken quite a hit. 

Retention issue – low moral with the faculty is a legacy of the former administration.  The perception has damaged the moral of the faculty.  Need creative solutions to recruit faculty. 

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Page Updated 11.27.2013