President Harker should be more visible at the univ.
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 17:10
Last year in my public speaking course, we were given a unique assignment. Our final group project was to improve one of Delaware’s new five pillars of excellence (Smart Money, East Coast Classic, etc.). The assignment made me a bit angry. It was not that Delaware does not encompass the pillars it promotes, because it does; Delaware is a great university. It is also a university that I believe to be on the rise. The reason it made me angry had more to do with the man behind the curtain: our school’s president.
Who is Patrick Harker? I asked that question to senior Danielle O’Connell. She replied, “I don’t know. I mean, I know who he is, but I don’t know what he does.” I asked the question to at least a dozen other UD students. Many of them gave similar replies as to whom Patrick Harker is until I added his title. When you think about it, how would they know?
I have never gone to another university so I cannot speak on how Harker’s presence compares to others, but I can honestly say that the only two times I have seen our president was on YouTube in a video with the men’s track team and at last year’s graduation ceremony. In my four years here on campus, I have not seen our president once. It’s as if Martin Handford just didn’t put Waldo in one of the pages as a practical joke.
When would he be around? What would he say? Am I suggesting that President Harker hold a town meeting for students once a week where people can ask him questions and articulate their opinions in an informal setting? Perhaps, but maybe that’s too much trouble. Maybe there’s a better way in which he could connect with the student population. Maybe I’m wrong. While I did not have a chance to interview the entire school, I think it is troubling that students feel no connection with their president and in some cases are not even aware of his name or appearance. I’d be willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt though, since it seems there is a laundry list of things done around school that leave me scratching my head.
For one thing, the amount of construction occurring at the university during the semester is overwhelming to many students. Is there something wrong with the months of June, July and August to have construction done? It seems like it is easier to get into a presidential debate without credentials than to make it to Wilbur Hall. I know it can’t take that long to replace tiles in a sidewalk. Construction is also taking place on south campus, near the Bob Carpenter Sports Center and the seemingly never-ending Elkton road, which is worse off now than it was four years ago.
Finally, I think just about all students can agree this university has to be in line for a new library. Morris Library was built in 1963, and even with the renovations done less than 20 years ago, it still gives off the cold, penitentiary vibe. Simply put: it is dated. There is virtually no natural light, there is no atrium area (don’t give me Bleecker Street) and the library is one of the most dreaded places on campus. I understand part of that notion is centered on the dreary thought of having to do work, but the library does not have to be so uninviting in appearance. It could be a cornerstone for this university with such a prime location on the Green.
All in all, I know some of these things are out of the president’s control. As a senior, all I’m really asking for is a little accountability and communication. Is Delaware improving? Absolutely. But could it be better? There’s no question that it can. I am just one person, and these are some of the things that bug me. I’m sure 16,000 other people have opinions that they’d like to express that would help take this university into the elite class it seeks to be a part of. I have no doubt we will eventually get to that point. I just hope it is sooner rather than later.