By Beth Byrd
Academic achievement, university goals and financial stability were topics University President David S. Dockery discussed with students Oct. 3 in Harvey Hall for the biannual “Ask the Doc” Student Senate.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Dockery clicked through slides of average test scores and statistics from the freshman class to show how academic achievement continues to be a Union priority.
Dockery said the freshman class had an average ACT score of 26, which he explained was the highest average for a freshman class yet. He said Union also is one of 22 U.S. academic institutions rated “A-Plus Schools for B students,” meaning that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education.
Dockery highlighted several university goals as well particularly pertaining to the new library. Although the completion date for the building is tentative, Dockery said the last meeting with architects was to discuss floor and wall coverings. He added that he expects construction drawings to be completed by the middle of October.
Enrollment increased again this semester to 4,262 students. Dockery said a decrease in enrollment would not be “the end of the world” nor “the day the music died” when it occurs. However, he said the increased enrollment numbers are a blessing to the university.
An increasing ethnic diversity continues to be achieved as well, Dockery said. Union’s freshman class consists of 17 percent non-Caucasian students, compared to the 13 percent average in the past seven years.
Dockery also discussed the importance of wisely spending university funds.
Drawing information from a Sept. 23 article in The Jackson Sun, Dockery said one-third of 1,700 university administrations in the U.S. are facing financial difficulties. Union is not one of these struggling universities, he said,but the administration must continue to be good stewards of its finances.
“We’re healthy,” Dockery said, “not wealthy.”
After Dockery updated students on the latest developments at the university, several students asked for Dockery’s perspective on different issues, such as Union’s impact on the community, his view of religious liberties and the future of undergraduate online courses.
Finances continued to highlight the discussion as students debated whether the university could afford certain resolutions and bills.
Phillip Kurtzweil, sophomore biochemistry major, and David Clark, junior mathematics major, proposed Resolution 191-27, which suggests university maintenance staff cover irrigation control valves in the Ayers quad.
This resolution passed, as well as Bill 191-28 proposed by Dalton Deluca, sophomore business administration in economics major. This bill would provide $200 to Alpha Tau Omega’s campaign to support heart disease research.
Resolution 191-26, proposed by Wil Story, senior psychology major and Student Government Association senior class vice president, also passed. Story suggested that a study be conducted regarding which majors require the most printing on university print allowances.
Students receive a print allowance each semester that enables them to print assignments on campus. They keep track of prints throughout the semester and sometimes run out of prints before the semester ends.
Running out of prints means purchasing a print card in the library in order to use university printers.
The goal of this study would be to evaluate whether certain students need more print allowances than other students.
The two resolutions and the bill must be presented to administration before having the chance to be ratified by the student body.
Dockery said the purpose of the “Ask the Doc” meeting is to give a glimpse of what is taking place at the university.
Students filled the rows of chairs and lined the sides of the walls in Harvey Hall to hear the president speak. Previous “Ask the Doc” Senate meetings generated similarly large audiences, said Kylie McDonald, senior political science major and SGA president.
Dockery’s regular meetings with students are a tradition that began in 1997 with his administration, he said.
“If our goal is to work together to build a better Union, committed to ongoing quality improvement, then these conversations can be helpful,” Dockery said. “It is also important for students to know why we do some things or why we do not or cannot do other things.”