Friday, November 4

El Presidente

[Note this is a fairly off-topic rant about where I went to college, I'll be posting more fun stuff this weekend, but I'm a writer at heart and this has been simmering for a bit.]

It shouldn't come as any real surprise to anyone who has known me for very long that when the subject turns to Universities and Colleges and my old university comes up my eyes will roll firmly up into my head and I will not have the kindest things to say about it. Which is kind of unfortunate as my time there as a student and as an employee was fairly solid. (Over half of the classes I took I took from one Professor, Dr. Ewald. He was Assistant Professor of the "Classics" department, and I could NOT recommend him enough to anyone who wants to learn ancient history, Latin, Greek, a wide overview of art history and many other topics.) The problem with the school that I had/ have was with the upper administration.

Now I am sure you're saying, "Ben, you graduated five and a half years ago, why on earth are you just now dedicating blog space to this now?" That is indeed a good point. (And if you didn't think it before, you are now...) A month or so ago I got the word that the president of the college was stepping down. And just the other day I got a survey from the search committee looking to replace him. I love survey's, in fact I try to get on an "input team" for almost any store, brand, or product weather I love it or hate it. (Case in point, I am on Best Buy's survey list and I always take the time to fill those out.) It's something I figure that if someone wants my opinion and might actually take it into account to make something better than I would take the time to let them know how they can make it better.

As I was filling out this survey a lot of stuff that I had internalized as viewing as a problem coming from the top down came out and I let them know how I thought they could do better in looking for a new president. One of the big things was that the president while I was there was on a big theme entitled, "Can a University change the world?" At the time I thought it was pretentious and I don't waver from that viewpoint now. This only sought to highlight what I thought was the problem, there was a serious lack of Christ-like love of the students going on from the top-down. Yes there were exceptions, but I felt like in a lot of ways the "overall" way the college was seen to the world was far more important to a lot of higher-ups than the welfare of the students. Yes, young college students tend to make some bad mistakes as they get out into the world for the first time, but all I saw from the supposedly Christian college was a lot of rules (which we all joked about) and a distinct lack of care for the general spiritual health of the student body. (Which when I was there was not all that great.)

I am sure there is much I am not privy to, and educational theory isn't a field I have any interest in, but it seemed like they were missing something. There is a HUGE opportunity to guide young people out into the world for the first time, away from their parents, into solid, upstanding people with high moral integrity in a situation like this. As a Christian college I would expect even more, and yet I saw a college mostly on par with most of the secular colleges I had seen. Really not too different other than the fact that we were paying more than a state college.

There were some very solid people (professors and staff) at SPU while I was there, and I am sure there still are, but the excellence in caring for people didn't seem to trickle up into policy on how the school was run. Could a University change the world? No, but the University could change the people that pass through it, and they might have a chance to impact the world.

I'm sure I'm bound to catch some ire from some direction for this, but really, it's my perspective on my time there. (Also, asking me to donate to the college before I've even graduated or made my first student loan payment? Wrong choice.)

No we resume our normal blog about things like my health (had a migraine the past 24 hours), and cooking (we're making a "Thanksgiving" style dinner this weekend, six dishes, it'll be a lot of fun. Pictures will be posted.).

Thanks for putting up with me team.

[ Prayer request? ]


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