CAITLIN PRARAT| DAILY KENT STATER Senior English major Carla Smith and Shanelle Smith, senior political science major, listen as provost candidate Timothy Chandler explains his plans for the university.
Credit: Adam Griffiths
Retention rates, preparing students for the professional world and promoting diversity on campus were some of the issues discussed at yesterday’s student forum with Timothy J. L. Chandler, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost candidate.
Preston Mitchum, academic affairs senator for the Undergraduate Student Senate, asked Chandler to explain how he would help increase student diversity.
Chandler said increasing diversity will begin to be especially difficult because of the potential legal changes in affirmative action. He said diversity is an important part of campus life because not all students can travel to experience diverse cultures, ethnicities and races.
“Part of having a degree is getting it in a diverse college,” he said.
But the focus shouldn’t just be on diversifying the campus.
“It’s not just a question of saying, ‘We really want you to help diversify,'” he said. “We (also) need to have the major they want to study.”
However, Chandler said attracting minority students is only part of a bigger problem. He said he would like to find a solution to the low retention rate, noting 29 percent of students leave during their first year.
Christen Cappola, student relations senator for USS, asked the candidate how he felt about the current orientation programs.
“It’s an inoculation,” he said. “You get your first jab – shot – of orientation and then you have four or five years after that.”
Assuming that orientation has an effect on retention rates, Chandler suggested the class be split up between the two semesters that make up freshman year. Students would take the course for five weeks during the first semester and five weeks in the second semester.
He also said each orientation class should be tailored to specific majors, which would allow students to learn a bit more about their majors and the general principles of adapting to campus life.
He went further, saying it is important not only to inspire students to come back – but to have them graduate as well.
“After all, that is what you come here to do,” Chandler said, noting that only about 45 percent of students who come to Kent State graduate.
Carla Smith, programmer for Black United Students, said low graduation rates may be a result of the financial strain staying on campus places on students. One of her reasons, she explained, is that upperclassmen aren’t given many opportunities for scholarships.
In addition, Shanelle Smith, president of Kent State’s NAACP, said building a stronger community on campus may inspire students to stay and increase graduate turnover.
” I think we should create a community around academia,” she said. “I mean, that’s the commonality between us.”
But Shanelle Smith said once students graduate, they may be underprepared. She said the university could begin incorporating graduate level work into undergraduate programs.
” The university has made a push to increase capstones and internships to close the doors to the academic career and open doors to the professional career,” he said.
Contact general assignment reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected]