Sunday, August 31, 2008
My thoughts are in italics.
Lawsuits blamed for lower Randolph enrollmentAugust 31, 2008 - 2:17pm
Associated Press Writer
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - Lawsuits that challenged Randolph College's decisions to go coed and to sell valuable artwork have been resolved, but they apparently are having a lingering effect. The school's enrollment this fall is the lowest in about four decades, and officials say that's because prospective students were confused about the school's future.
"The lawsuits definitely impacted our enrollment because of the uncertainty they brought," spokeswoman Brenda Edson said.
The private Lynchburg liberal arts college will have fewer than 600 students this fall, compared with 660 last year and 700 in 2006 when it was still a women's school. About 100 students in the classes that begin Monday will be men, with 47 in the freshman class of about 180.
While the decision to go coed was made to increase the student body and put the school on a firmer financial basis, Edson said enrollment doesn't tell the whole story.
The school will actually get more tuition revenue this year with fewer students, she said, because it has been able to reduce financial aid. In two years, Edson said, the school has reduced the amount of financial aid for students from an average of 67 percent to a little more than 40 percent of the $26,870 tuition. That brings the average payment this year to about $11,000.
John Klein, who became Randolph's president a year ago, said while he had hoped enrollment would increase this fall he was not surprised by the dip, "given all of the transition issues."
"The past two years have been two years like no other," said Edson, referring to a firestorm set off by an announcement in September 2006 that Randolph-Macon Woman's College would change its name and admit men.
The decision to go coed was forced by dire financial circumstances that were draining the $153 million endowment, but officials feared that alone would not persuade its accrediting agency to lift a warning issued to the school. The trustees decided last fall to sell four paintings from the school's museum collection, further angering alumnae and stirring criticism from the art world. And the fact that no museum will ever lend us art again....
The anger took the form of lawsuits seeking to overturn the coed decision and a court challenge to block the sale of artwork. In addition, the school took further steps to cut spending by reducing faculty and staff and eliminating some programs. Yes, we kind of looked ridiculous emphasizing "global honors" while trashing German and Russian languages and the American Culture department.
"It was a very difficult year," Klein said, but added: "A whole lot was accomplished." Such as....?
Randolph's officials believe they can look forward to easier times ahead.
The accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, lifted its yearlong warning status for Randolph last winter.
Opponents of the art sale withdrew their case in March, and the Virginia Supreme Court in June dismissed the challenges to Randolph's decision to admit men.
The school has sold one painting, Rufino Tamayo's "Trovador," for $7.2 million, and Klein said it will sell the other three when the market is right.
Edson said officials at other former women's schools, including Hood and Wells colleges, warned their Randolph counterparts that fallout from the transition to coeducation can last several years.
Neither of those schools had enrollment dips after they went coed. However, neither took other steps to raise money or cut costs. Great, so neither had the huge problems we did, but neither had the huge enrollment dips, either. Comforting.
"We've had a steady trajectory up," said Ann Rollo, spokeswoman for Wells College, in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
The school has an enrollment this year of 600 for the first time since 1972. It had 384 students before the liberal arts school began admitting men in the fall of 2005.
Enrollment at Hood, in Frederick, Md., has grown from 1,500 when the school went coed seven years ago to 2,600 this year, said spokesman Dave Diehl. Most of the growth has been in undergraduate programs, he said, but the college has a graduate program as well.
While acknowledging that the adjustment to coeducation was hard work, both Rollo and Diehl said their schools have thrived.
"It's a more vibrant campus," Diehl said. "There's more energy here."
Randolph officials say the atmosphere on their campus has become more positive, and the school has already had 21,000 inquiries from prospective students for next year. Two years ago, they got 8,000. Talking about inquiries is a great distraction from the fact that inquiries don't equal the amount of students paying to come to your school in the fall. An inquiry can equal a bored high schooler who ticked yes in an online box that they'd like to receive information from you.
"What I see is a whole different feeling about the year," Klein said. "Given that we don't have controversial decisions and we think that people are ready to move on, this year should be one that's fun." People are still angry. The decision to admit men to a 115 year old female institution is still controversial two years later.
Edson said more students began participating in campus events last year, and officials hope that will continue. The school is expanding its athletic program, with work under way on a $5 million track and athletic field with artificial turf. Why, why why?
Another daughter who is a junior at Smith enjoys college the way her sister did the first two years, McKean said.
"Smith makes women feel like they can do anything," she said. "Randolph-Macon used to do that."
The number of women's colleges in the nation has declined from about 300 in the early 1970s to about 60 today. The three in Virginia _ all private, liberal arts schools _ report they're holding their own.
Estimated enrollment was projected at 685 at Sweet Briar College and about 780 for residential undergraduates at Hollins University, which is on par with last year. Mary Baldwin College expected an increase in its residential undergraduates from 807 last year to about 850.
Miss South Carolina
Saturday, August 30, 2008
During the past week, as I have begun classes and started my new job as a teaching assistant, I've been filled with the feeling that I made the right choice all around-career wise and school wise. Only a few months after my college graduation and I find myself once again spending hours studying and preparing notes for papers and now for my own class to teach (a scary thought!). At the same time, however, I feel renewed in the choices that I made the get me here, and the hard work I put into getting myself to graduate school.
For years during college, as I agonized over some hideous calculus assignment, horrible econometrics project, or endless economics paper, I questioned my choice to double major in a subject that used math so heavily. Practical math is fine with me- but once I ventured into abstract calculus I feared I was a goner. I worked hard to finish in four years with two majors and studying abroad, and during my entire senior year, I wondered if my choice would come back to haunt me. The economics department at my college had a different grading scale than other programs: you needed a 94 for an A-. And don't forget that this is economics, and not exactly the easiest program to begin with! So after four years of working really hard, I feared that I had sacrificed a less than perfect GPA in the name of my dual degree, and that I would be tossed aside in consideration for graduate school. I knew that if I had only majored in political science, my stronger subject, I would have left RMWC with a near 4.0 and no math classes needed. But I also would have been bored, and I like a challenge.
Especially during my senior year of college, I almost regretted my economics program many times. Like the time I had to change my senior paper topic five days before the proposal was due when the department told me they couldn't help with data. Or the time I had the change my econometrics paper topic 7 times due to data availability. Or when I realized that I never actually needed calculus because I never once did a derivative outside of calculus class. After my senior economics paper presentation, during which the professor let other students speak far longer than the 20 minutes we were allotted, making one student late for an honors society meeting and myself late for a Miss Virginia related appointment, my professor said that I looked like I was ready to be done with it. And he couldn't have said it any better. The joy I felt in handing over that final paper was bizarre- economics was killing my love for learning.
Last week, however, as I sat in my political research class, I realized that I had a leg up on all the other students. there were only five other MA students in the class, and the rest of the class included PHD candidates from other programs. The professor started talking about using regression analysis, studying materials with data, and using computer programs that I was very familiar with (perhaps just from sitting in front of a computer and saying to the computer program "Why aren't you working properly?!", but nonetheless...)
She asked us to list our previous training in statistics and other people were asking if it was okay to list classes you took twenty years ago. In that one moment it all became worth it. All those awful moments wondering whether I made the right decision. If nothing else, economics taught me how to work through things backwards, approach things with a different eye, and it certainly taught me to be a better political science student.
So I breezed through the first week of graduate school, fully confident that my undergraduate education, both in the state and abroad, armed me for the challenges I might face here. As both a student and now a teacher here, I am living out what I have wanted and I'm living my dream. I'm so grateful for every challenge I've faced in the past because I know it has prepared me for this!
Perhaps one of the few graduate students thrilled to have as much work as I do, I must get back to the grind!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It’s hard to believe that I’m three days into graduate school and I’ve already had to break out clothing worthy of
This morning as I stepped off the bus to head to class my umbrella actually blew inside out; my class was so early that the bookstore wasn’t even open yet, so I had to join my fellow drenched classmates in a drafty, damp room. (I later was able to secure a new umbrella, thankfully!). So far, everything is going well. I’m really relieved to be back in school. It was nice to be able to work over the summer and I was certainly grateful for a chance to travel home to visit my family and see friends, but I was certainly meant for school. I enjoy writing papers, studying, and reading. It’s no surprise that I plan to be a professional student then, is it?
My apartment is especially quiet since I don’t have internet or cable yet, and I don’t have much furniture either. The way my schedule is working out, I spend almost every day of the week on campus, so I usually just come home to eat, study, and head out again! My back is killing me from carrying around such a heavy load again, from I’m excited to be back in the swing of things!
And since I’m back in school, although I loved Randolph-Macon dearly, there are some advantages to attending a big school. First of all, I get to be a teaching assistant, and I’m TA’ing a class I’m interested in: World Politics. What a great dry run to make sure I want to be an international relations professor. Another big university plus: I have free rein over my research and thesis hours, giving me ample opportunity to start developing my master’s thesis. The library is huge, and VT has access to so many journals and books that RMWC just lacked. And finally, the gym! It’s amazing! There are actually two gyms, both with pools. When I first started going I figured it was the place I’d be most likely to bump into another Miss Virginia girl but I still thought the chances would be pretty small at such a large school, so imagine my surprise when I bumped into Sonya Milstead 45 minutes into my workout! And one more thing I’m coming to love about
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Political news has been abundant, however, and I have several posts in the works about the recents news over the vice presidential pick and the convention. I've just started a new school, though, and I'm without internet connected on the home front. I'm anxious to get started on my school work, too! I'm still unpacking into my new apartment and adjusting to my new surroundings and hope to be back in the swing of things soon, but for now I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of my apartment and the business of the new campus!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Well, last week I had to completely pack up my old apartment, check out the remaining group on campus, rent a truck to move (nightmare, which I'll share sometime later) and then move to my new home. Thanks to Jimmy (director of the year award, easily) the moving in process was much easier than loading up. It took me all of Wednesday night to load up the truck but it only took us two hours to unload! Then I came back, packed the remaining stuff in my car, and drove again to Blacksburg to stay the night. The next morning at 5:30 I got up to drive home to Ohio and made it back by the afternoon.
So, after a summer involving Miss Virginia, working two jobs totaling 60-70 hours per week, I am completely enjoying the brief week and a half vacation that I get before becoming a full time graduate student! I am so excited about my new apartment and it's the most space I've ever had!
Well, be patient while I enjoy my break!
Sunday, August 3, 2008
I do have pictures from the pageant, but please keep in mind that 1) the girls moved very quickly. 2) i was seated quite far back and my zoom came out blurry quite a bit 3) the people in front of me kept leaning in to talk to one another and I would completely miss a girls evening gown/swimsuit presentation. So, some pictures are blurry, and occasionally I don't have any pictures of a girls presentation! Some girls moved around so much for talent that I was unable to get any good pictures! Also, I don't claim to be any Julius, so of course the quality is not great! It's hard to take pictures when you are cheering people on and watching their performance, and I'm amazed I got any pictures of Maddie's crowning at all! I'm staying up late to make sure Shannon gets back to VB safely, so I'm deciding to share these pictures!
Just a note: all of these girls were great contestants and I ask that in sharing my pictures, that they not be used to pick any contestant apart. All of the girls did a wonderful job and we all know the confidence it takes to be on that stage. Every one of them was outstanding. Please enjoy the pictures; I know the quality isn't great but something is better than nothing, right?
It was a great pageant and wonderful to see Miss Virginia friends! Congrats to Maddie, who has been and will continue to be a wonderful titleholder for the Miss Virginia organization! So proud of you, and now you can kick back and enjoy your senior year of college without the stress of competing in pageants every weekend!
And the winners are:
Wee Miss: Alyson Ponton
Tiny Miss: Mia Garrett
Little Miss: Kelsey Coleman
Preteen Miss: Amanda Pippin
Teen Miss: Kristina Ryan
Miss: Candace Wilson
Since I took so many photos today, I'm using a slideshow to share them!