A few days ago, the following email went out to all students. This is a forum worth contributing to, considering the significant discussions about Wesleyan’s direction last semester. Those interested should send their responses to the WSA by February 20. More details below:
I am writing to invite you to participate in a new form of student engagement with President Michael Roth and the Board of Trustees. Over the past several months, I have worked with the President’s Office to organize a face-to-face discussion with the President on an open question about Wesleyan’s future direction, shape, and character. Board meetings (in which WSArepresentatives participate) usually address one such question, and this time around I am pleased to announce that the question is also being posed to the student body as a whole.
The question can be found below. We cordially request your thoughts on the subject by Wednesday, February 20th, in the form of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “Discussion” in the subject line. The Wesleyan Student Assembly will collect your responses and convey them to President Roth. On February 28th, in PAC001, the WSA and President Roth will co-host an open face-to-face discussion with students, which will inform the Board of Trustees’ own discussion two days later.
We hope that you will choose to participate and make your voice heard; if this method of engagement is successful, then it may become a regular occurrence in the future.
Please give your thoughts on the following question, written by President Roth:
We often talk about the scholar-teacher model as being at the heart of Wesleyan’s educational experience. I believe very strongly that much of the work that our faculty do to advance their own fields makes their teaching sharper and more vital. But not all research finds its way into the classroom, and at many universities there is a strong feeling that research serves some larger cultural good — not just the good of the students. This is much less true at most liberal arts colleges. Many professors at institutions that value research express that they want time “to do their own work,” and this often means work that serves their disciplines, not (necessarily) the university.
What is Wesleyan’s obligation to subsidize this research? It’s important to say, as we do, that we subsidize research because it improves the educational experience on campus. But don’t we also subsidize research because it is a good, a cultural good, in itself? Specialization in the academy means that the great bulk of work produced by scholars for other scholars will not find its way into undergraduate teaching. Our strategic plan describes Wesleyan as not only a learning community but as “a locus of research and creative practice.” What does that mean to us today?
We look forward to your responses.
Andrew Trexler ’14
Wesleyan Student Assembly
Michael S. Roth