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Archive for April, 2013

I wanted to remind all my Kutztown friends and XChange followers that today is KU President Javier Cevallos’s big day. He is one of two finalists to become the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. FDU is hosting him for a full day of events including town hall type meetings with members of the university community later in the day. According to Patrick Zenner, Chair of FDU’s Board of Trustees, “following the meetings and after reviewing all factors and the input we receive, the Board of Trustees will select the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University.” While there is not a clear deadline for when the Board will make its decision, FDU is putting Cevallos’s best foot forward. Cevallos’s time as KU President dominates his bio posted on the FDU site:

Since his arrival to Kutztown, enrollment has increased from 8,500 to 10,000 students. Simultaneously, the diversity of the student body has grown. In 2002, approximately 6 percent of the students were members of a racial/ethnic minority, and today that number is 15 percent. The academic profile of the entering class has also improved, going from an 80 percent acceptance rate in 2002 to 64 percent in 2012.

Dr. Cevallos has also overseen a significant change in campus facilities. Since his arrival, the campus has completed a new $20-million Science Center, a $21-million classroom/dining facility (a unique concept that has received architectural awards), the renovation and expansion (almost doubling in size) of Sharadin Visual Arts building ($19 million), and this summer will see the completion of a $21-million renovation of Schaeffer Auditorium, the performing arts center.

The campus has also seen the construction of a new $61-million residence hall, a $30-million Student Recreation Center, and a $13-million renovation of the Health Center. Next fall will also see the completion of the renovation of a traditional residence hall, as part of the comprehensive Housing Master Plan that will renovate all university-owned housing over the next 10 years. He has also worked with the Kutztown University Foundation to build a $40-million residential complex that houses more than 1,400 students; and through the Foundation facilitated the acquisition and renovation of an Honors Hall, a $2-million project that combines housing and classroom space for honors students.

Dr. Cevallos has been an advocate for internationalizing the university. As a faculty member in Massachusetts he directed the Summer Program in Salamanca, Spain, and has been involved with international programs since then. Under his leadership, Kutztown has established programs in Ecuador, China, India and Italy. Kutztown is one of five leading institutions in the Pennsylvania System in a new program that aims to bring students from China to KU. As part of the effort, the university developed an English as a Second Language Program to help students with their language skills.

There are those at KU who may take issue with the fact that there is no mention that Kutztown University has pretty publicly announced deep budget deficits in 10 of Cevallos’s 11 years at Kutztown; that he has overseen the elimination of all retention programs for working class and first generation college students; that he eliminated the Early Learning Center – a legacy jewel dating back to the founding of the university; that he failed to deliver on his job as the university’s #1 fundraiser (the first item listed on his job description when he was hired); that he presided over the demotion of Kutztown University to a fourth-tier school in U.S. News and World Report; that the most recent “KU Campus Climate Survey” showed that 42% of tenured faculty members, 38% of tenure-track faculty members, and 31% of temporary faculty members have “considered leaving the university” (noticeably large); and…well I could go on all day.

The important thing, however, is that we have lots of nice buildings and the university is cosmetically attractive. And THAT’s what’s important about higher education. True, there are more students, fewer faculty, and larger classrooms in those nice new buildings. But I still think we should all consider dropping President Cevallos an email wishing him luck at FDU today: cevallos@kutztown.edu.

Break a leg, President Cevallos. Just be sure to let them know that Kutztown’s new slogan – plastered on the university’s web site and on billboards through out the region – is “The best choice I ever made,” and show them the website and all the billboards up around the region. That will keep them focused on the shiny stuff.

 

I made good choice

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If you had to choose between being a Devil or a Knight, what would it be? Or, if you had to decide whether to play for a NCAA Division I or Division III, which would you pick? Well, if you choose to go to Fairleigh Dickinson University you don’t have to make those choices. As one of the few schools in the U.S. to field both Division I and Division III teams, you can be a Devil and a Knight. And that just might be the fate of Kutztown University’s president, Javier Cevallos.

According to an April 3, 2013 email sent to the FDU community by Patrick Zenner, the Chair of FDU’s Board of Trustees, Cevallos is one of two finalists to be their next President. Cevallos will visit FDU’s campuses on April 18th for day of meetings and open town hall meetings.

 

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On Monday I posted pics of the 15 trees being planted on the walkway between Lytle Hall and Beekey. Today, I am happy to report that I had grossly underestimated the number of trees being planted. Late Monday, students reported that tree planting was happening all across campus. On my way into campus yesterday, at least 30 more trees were being planted around the sports fields between Lytle and Beekey (pics below). 

I like to think of these trees as a kind of Memorial Garden for all the programs and jobs cut by KU’s administration. One tree for the Early Learning Center. Another tree for the Advising Center. More for academic programs in Theater, Nursing, and French. There’s one for the Men’s soccer team and another for the for the Director of the Women’s Center course release. 

In his April 1 “Update” (no, not an April fool’s joke), President Cevallos painted a grim budget picture and once again urged faculty to “make that extra effort” and to help “sell” Kutztown University. Then he wrote the following:

Construction is ongoing on campus as we continue to make Kutztown University THE most attractive campus in the State System and the region for current and prospective students …

 

…  The location and the beauty of our campus continue to be cited as primary reasons students “Choose KU.”  Capital improvements are, and will continue to be, crucial to our recruitment efforts.

So, as you walk past the newly planted Swamp White Oaks – the Budget Cut Memorial Gardens – remember that every effort is being made to invest in what makes KU a choice for students. Not the reputation of our academic programs. Not the effort faculty make to maintain one-on-one relationships with students. Not the quality education students receive. No. The KU administration will invest where it REALLY matters: cosmetics. 

It’s a new day folks. Let’s embrace that new day with a little cosmetic revision of an old piece of advice that many of you probably got from parents and teachers when you were growing up. Here’s to the new KU: 

ALWAYS JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

Amen.

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Swamp White Oak Trees. 15 of them to be precise. 

I arrived on campus this morning to find workers from the Reading, PA based Spayd’s Landscaping planting fifteen good-sized trees along the sidewalk between Lytle Hall and Beekey Education Building. I asked two of the workers what kinds of trees they were and they told me “Swamp White Oak” trees. 

Given that KU’s administration just announced that the university is facing a $8.2 million budget shortfall, I can only assume that these trees are helping – somehow – reduce that shortfall. Maybe the company is paying KU to plant these trees? Maybe KU will open the campus to deer and squirrel hunting (since Swamp White Oaks attract these critters due to their plentiful acorns), or maybe KU will host a competitive leaf raking fund-raiser each fall (Swamp White Oaks are noted for being quite messy – but very long living if taken care of). Another example of President Cevallos and his administration working for YOU. 

Or, maybe these are memorial trees planted for the number of jobs that will be cut this year. At least we’ll have shade. I want to remember this day. I suggest you do to. Here’s to Swamp White Oak day!

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