Though much of the Nov. 5 faculty meeting concerned possible changes to committee infrastructure and strategies to increase the college’s enrollment, priority was given to approving the degrees that will be awarded in January and addressing the traffic safety issues about South Street.
President Teresa Amott began her debriefing by thanking the faculty for their help and involvement around campus after the death of Sekinat “Tundun” Olamitundun Lawani ‘14, which she called “emblematic of the care this faculty exhibits for students.”
Amott received a call on Monday from Galesburg Mayor Salvador Garza. The two discussed the safety concerns and by Friday, Amott received a draft for a multi-stage “pedestrian safety action plan.” Some short-term solutions include aggressive striping of crosswalks and pulling back the yield signs, all of which could be done within one or two weeks. Long-term solutions would be more time-consuming.
“A longer term question would be for the city to [reconsider] the role of South Street in the overall traffic pattern of the city given both the quiet zones and the street closures that have been put into effect, and the re-opening of Alumni Hall, when that happens, because that will also change things,” Amott said. “I think we want to focus not simply on the West and South Street, but all the way up to Borzello, which I think is another area that’s problematic. … But the city has come forward very quickly in the wake of the tragedy to begin at least the first phase of this.”
A joint city-student taskforce will be put together and led by Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf, whom Amott cited as having previous expertise and experience with traffic safety.
“The tragedy, of course, is what it took to get us to this place but, given that we are now here, we can move forward and really have a more comprehensive look at the street. Thirty, 45 percent of our students live north of South Street. So clearly this is a matter of real importance to the college,” Amott said.
The Student Life Committee felt that the faculty should voice support for the students who had been organizing change. The faculty passed the resolution unanimously.
Though Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jamie Spacco had no report as the committee had a meeting coming up, there was discussion about the proposed plan to move the college’s email from Zimbra to Google.
Due to the student interest expressed last spring, they are now no longer looking for support but “strenuous objections.” If students, faculty and staff are in favor, the change could be made as soon as December or January.
Though some faculty supported the switch, seeing it as an inevitable move considering much of the campus’s preexisting use of Gmail, several did not.
Associate Professor of History Catherine Denial cited concerns about Google’s privacy issues and asked whether the faculty would have enough time to look into the matter if the switch was looking to be made in December.
Next was a presentation from Dean of Admission Paul Steenis about the college’s recruitment and admittance rates. Steenis discussed the median family income of the students who applied ($85,684; down from the previous $92,222) and those who matriculated ($88,704; up from the previous $82,102). These numbers were used to ground discussions on the increase of need-based financial aid, which directly affects the college’s budget.
Also included in the presentation were the college’s changing demographics, specifically its loss of applicants from the western Chicago suburbs and the increase of applicants from southern Chicago. Steenis did not have the data onhand as to whether this decrease was Knox-specific or whether it was a general effect of the 2008 recession. There was also a notable increase in international student retention. Steenis credited this to an increase in the satisfaction of international students, which led to positive word-of-mouth.
Amott also stressed the need to recruit more athletes. Reasons included the fact that the current athletic department could be preventing students who are otherwise interested in Knox from applying and that athletes have a higher retention rate than non-athletes.
Faculty also expressed concern about the current admittance rate. Steenis and Amott said that the application rate would have to go up in order for the college to be seen as more selective.
It was suggested that the committee hold two separate meetings — one in which students are invited and another in which they are not. The reasons cited were to increase student comfort in asking questions and it being “unseemly” to discuss faculty salaries in front of students.