More than 3,300 students will be graduating on May 9 and thus forced to make changes. At the same time, the university seems to be approaching long-term transformations as well.
The news story on page 6 outlines the university’s “strategic plan,” which administrators hope will change UM’s ranking by improving the university’s infrastructure, research programs, undergraduate experience and more. But what does “elevating the status of the university” actually mean for students?
Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc, who wrote the strategic plan, said that one of the goals of his proposal is to “enhance the undergraduate experience” with more on-campus activities, multidisciplinary education and more convenient study abroad options. That sounds spectacular, but this is still just a plan that has yet to be implemented. What about changing smaller things that don’t take 15 years to complete? The Miami Hurricane would like to suggest having a library that’s open 24 hours or a meal plan that isn’t required if you live on campus. Or maybe our own stadium.
Now, we are not trying to bash the university by any means. UM has significantly smaller class sizes than other Florida universities such as the University of Florida or Florida State University. We have one of the most racially diverse campuses in Florida; we have great guest speakers, such as Anderson Cooper and the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates; and we have approachable administrators such as Chief of Police David Rivero, who will meet with students one-on-one over lunch – which he pays for.
Still, it seems that the more that things change, the more they stay the same. Most UM students want to have an enjoyable college experience at their beautiful, palm tree-laden campus. Having six different construction sites on campus to increase on-campus residence (part of the strategic plan) does not seem to make the campus more relaxing, walk-able or enjoyable for students. Construction is definitely an important part of progress, but we’re tired of looking at the green fence and piles of sand around the BankUnited Center, and we don’t want an internal road that goes through the Gifford Arboretum.
We will also be investing part of the $1.4 billion gained by the Momentum fundraising campaign to pay for some of the goals in the strategic plan, such as building “nationally prominent graduate programs” and hiring “world-class research faculty.” But what about the lack of parking or the limited staff at the Health Center that leads to hour-plus waits or the continual increase in tuition? Although we want our degrees to be respected nationally and we want every student to have an improved college experience, maybe we should invest some money into changes that hit closer to home. The strategic plan sounds nice, but by 2025 no one who will be attending the university in the next 10 years will be impacted by these changes – except maybe by their construction. And Florida’s supposed to underwater by then anyway.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.