Challenges

As we work to develop the new strengths you describe, what challenges or barriers might we encounter?

  • Dan Myers

    My sense is that, in many ways, the administration is more interested in paying lip service to actually transforming the undergraduate experience. With increasingly pervasive norms of inclusivity and diversification permeating our nation’s liberal arts colleges, it is understandable (indeed, predictable) that the University undertake a program like Imagine DU. While it is certainly a positive development that diversifying the student body has become more of a priority, I would challenge the administration to cut through the buzzwords and jargon of “transformation” and take stock of the most pressing issues in the eyes of DU students. First , steadily rising tuition rates are straining middle and low-income students long term financial solvency and negate advantages gained in college. There is a sense among myself and several of my peers that academic departments (such as JKSIS, where I study) are heavily focused on graduate and post graduate education and dismissive of meaningful, challenging undergraduate course work, with a curriculum which as a result is disappointingly redundant and disjointed. For that matter, administrators are rarely seen to take an interest in the common experiences of students without a preceding crisis to draw their attention to them. Finally, I’ve heard DU half-jokingly termed “a commuter school”, reflecting the lack of a solid community on campus outside of Greek life, athletics, and (quite frankly) binge drinking. These are the kinds of deep seated issues which, from an undergraduate perspective, keep students from a rich and engaging college experience. Campaigns like these make for pleasant and largely self-affirming discourse, but if DU genuinely wants to improve student experience, it should consult ordinary students directly and repeatedly.

    • Hi, Dan. Thanks for your comments. You bring up some subjects that we are hearing repeatedly from conversations with students (undergraduate and graduate), as well as faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. Affordability is a huge issue across higher education nationally, and issues of access and aid are very much on our radar. We are also hearing calls across campus for a stronger sense of community.

      I would love to sit down and chat with you, to learn more about your experiences in JKSIS and some of your other concerns. I’d also love to talk about some of what we’ve been hearing in our initial conversations and get your perspective on that.

      I’ll send you an email about setting up a meeting.

      Cheers,
      Ed

      Ed Rowe
      Director for Projects and Planning
      Office of the Chancellor

  • Hayden Johnson

    A challenge with any major change is, of course, funding. A robust and ambitious fundraising campaign is a must to accomplish the “big idea” goals being discussed.

    • Danny Brown

      I agree, Hayden. I see this challenge specifically impacting the vision of diversity. An expensive school makes for a less diverse community because most of the students will be from wealthier backgrounds. That’s not to say that DU needs to be less expensive – because it’s a great school – but that is to say that there should be more scholarships for students specifically from less wealthy backgrounds.

  • Erica Chenoweth

    The university is extremely decentralized, which might make implementing transformative changes extremely expensive or inefficient.

  • Dave

    Do not necessarily equate doing better with doing more. Feedback from our group discussion at the luncheon today is that students are inundated with emails from many different campus organizations, to the point that they disengage because there is so much clutter that nothing seems meaningful.