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ISSUE 119 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/17/2006

Talk to us

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, March 17, 2006

We are impressed by the selection of our president-elect, David R. Anderson ’74. Like stubborn children, we walked into Boe Memorial Chapel Tuesday morning with our arms crossed and our faces pouty, expecting that no one, no matter how tall he was or how many bright red bow ties he wore, could ever win us over. Somehow President-elect Anderson – between acknowledging that he reads the Manitou Messenger and playfully sporting his backpack of Ole gear – managed just that. And for a brief, fleeting moment we forgot the manner in which the College orchestrated the presidential roulette.

We are confused and disappointed by the way in which we, the students, were informed about this momentous decision. On Monday afternoon, we received an e-mail from Director of Communications Amy Gage telling us that President Christopher Thomforde had accepted a position as president at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. Later that evening, we looked on the College website to find a large photograph of Anderson with the announcement that he had been chosen as the next president of St. Olaf. Following that, we received an e-mail from Board of Regents Chair Jerrol Tostrud ‘60, informing us that the Board had selected Anderson and that we should attend chapel the next day to meet him.

These proceedings beget one valid question: Why did the website – and anyone in the world searching the Internet for that matter – receive information of this news before the students?

Even Anderson sensed feelings of discontent among the student body concerning the presidential search; after all, he reads the Messenger. In his chapel talk, he thanked us for our patience, citing the Opinions article “Desperately seeking president” published on March 3 in which the issues of ambiguity and secrecy surrounding the proceedings of the Presidential Search Committee were examined. Once the search process was over, however, Tostrud was more than willing to explain it to us on Tuesday: Over 100 candidates applied and the Committee narrowed down the pool of applicants to nine and then to two. Oh, that makes sense now. Thanks for clearing that up.

Students are left to speculate about what is actually going on – principally involving the events that have occurred over the past few days. We assume that these events must have been planned in advance. While we acknowledge that e-mails sent to large aliases can be slow, we simply ask for notification and a little explanation so that next time, our mothers do not find out about our new president before we do.

Once again, the College – whether it is the Board of Regents or the administration or media relations – demonstrates through its actions that students do not hold a high place on its priority list. As the College addressed (or rather brushed over) issues like Thomforde’s dismissal and tuition increases earlier this year, students continue to receive the same message: We do not matter. And suddenly it begins to make sense why our rate of alumni giving is embarrassingly low. Who would give money to an institution that does not have the courtesy to properly inform us of a decision that profoundly affects us? Until the College finds a way to better communicate its decisions and its decision-making processes to us, we will continue to voice our complaints and to demand the respect we deserve.

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