Student Government President Annette Ponnock sees a bright future for the University of Miami, as she noted in her fall 2006 State of the University speech Wednesday on the UC Rock.
“Through all the ups and downs, in and outs of this semester UM is clearly on the path to greatness,” she told the crowd of roughly a dozen SG members and assorted students around the Rock. “We [were] founded on a rich tradition of excellence and this is apparent in all of our current and pending accomplishments.”
Ponnock also used the speech to announce a weekend Ibis Ride shuttle to South Beach, which will begin Feb. 3.
In addition, she pointed to a number programs SG oversaw this semester and plans to continue next semester. For instance, offering the New York Times in the dining halls and other locations on campus, continuing free Napster service to students, expanding recycling services and extending the 5-meal a week plan to the weekends after students came forward with concerns.
Student feedback similarly led to extending the hours of operation at Leo’s Deli to 10 p.m., which Ponnock said demonstrated the administration’s willingness to listen to student concerns of not having enough late-night meal choices.
She characterized University Village as the “biggest addition to campus,” and said that, despite objections to the plan from the Coral Gables residents, there have been no complaints. Acknowledging the difficulties, Ponnock said she appreciated the patience and understanding of those students still living at the Holiday Inn.
“While it has had many construction delays, the final project is a beautiful and wonderful addition to our campus,” she said. “Move-in, though frustrating for the residents, has been very successful.”
Within SG, Ponnock discussed the structural changes of the cabinet, which she said have helped improve communication among that body, the Senate committees and executive committee.
Regarding the administration’s efforts to improve the university, Ponnock mentioned that William Green, the new dean of undergraduate education, is working with Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, to examine and overhaul the first-year experience, aimed at boosting retention rates and helping new students feel at home.
On the academic front, she also praised Provost Thomas LeBlanc, who joined the university last year, and Green for their work overall.
“[They are] two academic revolutionaries who never to cease amaze and inspire me with their vision for the university,” she said. “They have already shown such support and dedication and are true Hurricanes at heart.”
Before the address, John Constantinide, speaker of the SG Senate, spoke with The Miami Hurricane about the Senate in particular.
“I think we’ve done the best that we could with the events that have occurred and what we have been given,” he said, referring to the aftermath of the football brawl and the death of four students since the summer. In a phone interview with The Hurricane, he later said, “We had a lot of tragedies in the student population; we had a lot of obstacles with football. Whatever happened happened, but we move on.”
Ponnock also mentioned the four deaths in her remarks, asking those in attendance to participate in a moment of silence in remembrance.
On a more positive note, Constantinide addressed some of the particulars of Senate, many of which Ponnock mentioned in her speech.
“I think Senate has been wonderful,” Constantinide said. “There might have been some turnover, but despite that, those that have served have served well and have contributed a lot. I’m proud to say it has been a good year thus far for Senate.”
Greg Linch may be contacted at email@example.com.