Future Optimism Shared at 2013 Community Forum
President Carl J. Strikwerda opened the academic year last Tuesday morning at the 2013 Elizabethtown College Community Forum by centering his attention on “careful optimism about the future.”
After welcoming everyone back to campus during the Aug. 20 town hall-style gathering in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center and acknowledging the addition of more than two dozen faculty and staff members to the Blue Jays family, he stressed the importance of academics despite economic downturn.
“Do students gain from going to college?” he asked.
Considering that those without a degree are taking more of the brunnt of economic downturn, “college is more worth it than ever,” he answered.
More than 90 percent of Elizabethtown College students are employed or enrolled in graduate school within 10 months of commencement …
Strikwerda explained that, although we aren’t seeing unbridled economic growth—rather one of the slowest economic recoveries ever—there is still deep importance to a college education that offers strong academic program outcomes and integrated cocurricular activities. More than 90 percent of Elizabethtown College students are employed or enrolled in graduate school within 10 months of commencement, and Blue Jays who default on student loans are one third of the national average, he said, adding with a chuckle that these are numbers that can even “warm the heart of a cold-hearted college president.”
Offering an update of the College’s Strategic Plan and tactics to get the greatest impact from available money, Strikwerda zeroed in on E-town’s real-world learning, which he said “cannot be replicated online.” Small private colleges that home in on a “holistic education,” he noted, are doing significantly better than large research universities.
The President credits increased national recognition as a step toward success for Elizabethtown, pointing out that C-Span covered two Elizabethtown College events; the Office of Marketing and Communications, which, he said, garnered “a raft of awards,” has done an excellent job of getting the College into the media in a positive light; and joining the Landmark Conference is a step forward for athletics, Strikwerda noted.
The president also brought attention to additional graduate programs the College is considering in special education and in strategic leadership, the plan to grow the College’s enrollment to 2,000 while being more efficient with resources already on campus, and the need to concentrate on a modified zero-based budget and the newly minted 80-action-item work plan.