BY JESS MASULLI
President Judy Hample stressed the need for an enhanced student experience at UMW in her hour-long State of the University address on Nov. 17.
Hample explained, to an audience of mostly faculty, three major areas for the university to focus on: student experience, diversity and university standards.
“The perception of too many of our students is that we have an unresponsive bureaucracy in administration, too many rules, paperwork and roadblocks,” Hample said.
Students can expect to see a major improvement in this area with the opening of Lee Hall in January 2009.
Lee Hall will be a one-stop-shop for student services. Students will be able to access admission, registration, financial aid, payments and academic services all in one area.
To create unity between the departments of Lee Hall, a new position, dean of enrollment management and student services, will begin Jan. 2, 2009.
For JoAnn Schrass, associate dean of academic services, the speech was surprising since her department did not hear about the new position prior to the address. Other departments are also being redesigned to create more cohesiveness.
“This is a big student service operation so it makes sense that we would need a new boss,” Schrass said.
As part of Hample’s plan, students can expect to see no more forced triples for freshmen starting in Fall 2009. Hample cited residence hall renovations and replacements as one of her major concerns.
“Considerable attention will be given to living and learning environments within those halls,” Hample said, “gathering places for students, quiet places to study, even places where you can actually get a cup of coffee after midnight.”
The Eagle Village, to be located where the Fredericksburg Park ‘N’ Shop currently is, will provide 600 more beds in apartment style housing for students starting in Summer 2010.
Sophomore Cara MacDonald was pleased with Hample’s emphasis on student life during the address.
“I am glad she recognizes that students are annoyed by the bureaucracy at UMW,” MacDonald said. “She seems to be listening to student concerns.”
Hample also spoke about improving diversity on campus so that UMW will match the broader society. According to Hample, funding for minority recruitment has doubled and a new position of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusiveness will be created and opened to a national search.
“I believe that such a person would help us to energize our efforts to heighten diversity awareness and help to focus our attention on achieving a number of specific goals,” Hample said.
Hample also proposed that the business and education departments at the Fredericksburg and Stafford campuses become joint colleges. National searches would occur to find deans for each of these new colleges.
“It is important that we maximize our limited resources, and that we eliminate what I believe to be some internal competition for students within these programs,” Hample said.
According to Student Government President Sean O’Brien, Hample is making these decisions for the good of students.
“No vision can be agreed upon 100 percent,” O’Brien said, “but she laid out a great image for the University.”
Hample’s address did not deal with specific budget cuts, but they will be announced at a later date. She mentioned that budget cuts would get rid of programs that are not necessary to the UMW mission.
“I want to be very clear that from my perspective they [budget cuts] shall not deter us from achieving our goals at UMW,” Hample said.
For Julie Hodge, a professor in the theatre department, many of the points in Hample’s speech were not relevant to her department.
“I was more interested in hearing about the budget,” Hodge said. “She did not address cuts that could affect theatre.”
UMW is currently dealing with a seven percent cut in state funding, according to an Oct. 30 issue of the Bullet.
Both MacDonald and O’Brien were disappointed to see that few students attended the speech.
“The speech was not advertised to students,” MacDonald said.