A retrospective and application of an adventure in higher ed
By: KEVIN SCHASCHECK
This is both a look at the past and an expression of hope for the coming years of the campus I have come to know and love. IU South Bend is an extraordinary place situated in a college town that has the fortune of beautiful geography and a mayor who is making history.
First, let me say that it has been a pleasure to serve IU South Bend for the last four years as an associate justice, senator, vice president and finally, president. Throughout that time, I have indirectly and directly managed budgets totaling approximately $2.4 million, allocating funds for major events on campus such as the Asian Heritage Festival, Honors Program Earth Day Celebration and a large jazz festival to celebrate diversity.
During our jubilee year, I watched the campus celebrate a century of existence, fifty years of granting degrees, and 25 years of the Raclin School of the Arts. I led philanthropic events to raise thousands of dollars for Syrian refugees, the Special Olympics, and student veterans.
During my years as vice president and president, I passed legislation protecting our transgender students and supported our Civil Rights Committee in their efforts to lead open forums on campus to address and combat hate speech, and helped to investigate ways to improve the menstrual products we provide on campus.
At the end of the 2018/2019 academic year, I signed legislation for the largest SGA budget of the decade, fully funded Student Life and Titan Productions for the first time in years, and prepared our Policy, Legislation and Constitution Committee to hold a referendum on our constitution during the 2019/2020 academic year.
Most importantly, I used my role to advocate for the student body on a multitude of issues both during my conversations with our administration and in the search and screen committee for the new chancellor.
Each accomplishment listed above was the result of strong teams. My executive team, cabinet, senate and justices performed their roles admirably throughout the year, and without them, the successes above would not have been possible. I know that they will continue to represent the university well in the coming term.
Just as we want to make sure the university is well-served by our student government, we know that the student government’s needs and the needs of our constituents must be equally served in the coming years. With a decreasing level of support from the state, we have to ensure that we defend student life and the quality of our education. Several of our priorities for the coming years are outlined below.
Budgetary autonomy is vital for the student government. A key portion of our diversity strategy was to fund our campus jazz festival, and this has drawn criticism from some levels of the campus administration. We are convinced that such criticism is a result of misunderstanding the goals and strategies of the SGA. Musical celebrations can be a creative and unifying way to foster discussions about contentious social issues, and we are confident that our campus will continue to do this well.
Last year, our campus spent over $670,000 on marketing. The majority of that money was allocated to radio, television, paper, billboard and magazines. A stronger internet presence would strengthen our position with new generations of students. Our hope is that the incoming administration will reinvent our current marketing strategy.
Another goal we hope the university will undertake is the creation of a standing committee, accountable to the chancellor, that will work to increase our U.S. News ranking on an annual basis. Increasingly, students are applying to multiple colleges, and it is more vital than ever that our institutions remain competitive on all fronts.
Market segmentation is another point of importance. We would like the university to seek out ways to attract and serve our students of color, our Latinx students, LGBTQ+ students and veterans. We should continue to build on the progress we have made regarding feminine hygiene products, dialogues around hate speech and serving our protected classes.
The reputation of our campus among prospective students and the community is a key point of interest for our student body. Improving our reputation through marketing improves the value of our IU degrees.
Quality of Education
Education is our primary product. Administrators have the challenge of recognizing this fact while balancing that against our important auxiliary services. We believe that there are three basic ways the campus can renew its commitment to the quality of our education.
The campus should provide prep courses for graduate exams such as the LSAT, MCAT, GRE and GMAT. This is a long-term strategy for the welfare of our alumni who seek graduate degrees at prestigious institutions, and it should be a budgetary priority in the coming years.
In-class courses should receive priority over online courses, as that is where we possess a competitive advantage over other institutions. Online education is right for many students, but at IU South Bend, our primary focus should be on the classroom experience and the relationships with our faculty with limited online options.
We should lessen our reliance on adjuncts by hiring full-time lecturers. There is a tangible example of this currently in the Leighton School of Business, as there is currently not enough funding to hire a well-qualified applicant from a top-twenty university for an MIS position, a field with growing demand.
The above statements are not meant to lessen the morale of our campus leadership. These are encouragements for every stakeholder, including myself, to perform better in the coming years. By moving away from a fractured strategy into supporting one unified mission, we can ensure safe passage through the challenges of the approaching decade.