Provost Marc Roy announces Dr. LaJerne Cornish as Goucher’s new associate dean of undergraduate studies

Jaclyn Peiser

Samuel Kessler
News Editor

Provost Marc Roy announced in an email to the faculty and staff on Tuesday, Feb. 16 that LaJerne Cornish will assume the role of associate dean of undergraduate studies next fall.

LaJerne Cornish, chair of the education department and chair of faculty, in her office in Van Meter (Photo: Christopher Riley)
LaJerne Cornish, chair of the education department and chair of faculty, in her office in Van Meter (Photo: Christopher Riley)

“I’m very excited. I’ve worked closely with LaJerne in her role as chair of the faculty for the last three years,” Roy said. “She is absolutely wonderful in the way she works with students and her colleagues and I am very excited to have the chance to continue working with her in this capacity.”
The Provost first announced the search for current Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Amanda Thom Woodson’s replacement in a Jan. 13 letter to faculty and staff. Woodson will meet her two-term limit this spring semester and Roy asked for nominations and self-nominations. According to Woodson, other members of the staff and faculty asked to be part of the interview process, including Woodson’s assistant, the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Peejo Sehr, and Frona Brown, the college disabilities specialist. After going through the nomination and interview processes, Roy explained, “LaJerne was the best candidate.”
This sentiment continues across the college community.
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Ungar works with White House to increase aid

Jaclyn Peiser

President Barack Obama briefly discussed his plan to make higher education more accessible to low income

President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address (Photo: Google Images)
President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address (Photo: Google Images)

families in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address. Twelve days prior, the president and first lady hosted a College Opportunity Summit, in which Goucher President Sanford Ungar and over 100 other college and university presidents were celebrated for solidifying their commitment to the cause.
“The White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education –and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus,” President Obama said in the State of the Union address.
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Facing tuition deficits, administration initiates cutbacks

Jaclyn Peiser

Goucher College fell short of its projected net-tuition revenue goals this fiscal year by nearly $2 million, forcing senior staff to make tough budgetary and faculty cuts

Data from 2012-2013: The Princton Review
Data from 2012-2013: The Princton Review

in addition to searching for new sources of revenue.
This past academic year, the college contracted with a higher education consulting service called Noel-Levitz to help predict the number of incoming students for the 2013-2014 year. The final goal was 479 first year students and 54 transfer students. With an expected incoming class of 533, the college began to plan the budget incorporating the increased revenue from the incoming class. However enrollment was much lower than anticipated, leaving the college over 90 students short of its goal and with about $2.4 million extra in the budget that they could no longer fund.
The shortfalls in the net-tuition revenue goals, or the total gross tuition Goucher receives minus scholarship, grants and financial aid, has been an issue for private liberal arts colleges throughout the country. And, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Michael O’Leary, even with the increases in tuition, the current economic situation has resulted in less tuition revenue for the college.
“In the fall of 2011, the average Goucher student provided the college just over $23,000 in net tuition revenue,” O’Leary said. “Fall 2013, it’s just over $18,000. So as prices go up, financial aid goes up. We don’t realize more net tuition revenue through a tuition increase.”
O’Leary explained that each year the college’s discount rate increases because more students need financial aid. In addition, people are questioning the value of going to and paying for a liberal arts college.
“People do not have the home equity they once had in their homes to borrow against and help fund an education,” he explained. “There is a vocal course of people throughout the country who are questioning the value of having a liberal arts education. There is increasing concern on my part, and many people like me, about families’ willingness to pay for private higher education versus their ability to pay. People, in the past, who have the ability to pay, pay.”
In order to offset the deficit, the Board of Trustees agreed to hold at a 5.25 percent spend rate from the college’s endowment, which as of September 30 was an estimated $206 million.

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Sexual Misconduct Policy and Process Dialogue with Panel Members

Missy Ballinghoff

On March 5, students, senior staff, and Public Safety gathered in Kelly Lecture Hall for a discussion about the sexual misconduct policy and process. Also in attendance were two members of the sexual misconduct policy panel, La Jerne Terry Cornish and Michael O’Leary. The discussion was one of many follow-up meetings following the SGA senate meeting on Feb. 20.

Cornish, Associate Professor of Education and TITLE, and Michael O’Leary, Vice President for Enrollment Management have served on the sexual misconduct panel for three years. O’Leary is the chair of the sexual misconduct panel, and Cornish is a member of the sexual misconduct panel.
Throughout the discussion, Cornish and O’Leary answered questions regarding the policy and process, clarifying misconceptions and highlighting areas within the policy that need to be revisited.

The sexual misconduct policy was created in 2003 and has been revisited in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The policy itself is viewed as a “living-breathing document,” that has allowed past revision each year, and will continue to allow future discussions to continue, according to O’Leary.

“I think part of the reason we are here, and revisiting the policy is because of the social media aspect we haven’t dealt with before,” said O’Leary at the beginning of the discussion, in reference to the social media uproar regarding two recent sexual misconduct cases at Goucher.

The basic process of reviewing a sexual misconduct case was reviewed during the meeting. After a complaint regarding sexual misconduct is filed by either a student, faculty or staff member, the complaint goes straight to the members on the panel. The next business day, a printed letter of notification is sent to the complainant and the accused from O’Leary regarding the accusation.

The letter contains a copy of the complaint, rights for the accused and complainant, and notification for both parties that they can go to the authorities. Two investigators are then appointed to the complaint: one male, and one female. The investigators write a detailed report with their recommended results for the panel. The sexual misconduct panel then meets and discusses the results. Both parties can request a meeting with the panel and are allowed to bring a third party for support.
“We keep this very confidential to avoid it spreading across the community and due to FERPA confidentiality laws,” said O’Leary.

All of the investigators and panel members go through special training in order to be part of the sexual misconduct policy process.

“When you think about the legal system, if someone is raped, call the police immediately…But our policy is not a legal system,” said Cornish. “If someone is violated during their freshman year and doesn’t feel comfortable making the complaint, then they can come back and make a complaint later…our policy allows you to make a complaint within four years,” stated Cornish.

There are no mandatory sanctions defined within the policy itself, rather, sanction guidelines are outlined. This allows the panel to decide on sanctions case by case.
“This is tough stuff. We are dealing with human beings, whatever occurred with two people occurred behind closed doors, with those two people,” O’Leary responded in regards to the panel members’ training. If there is any personal relationship between a panel member and party involved with the complaint, complainant or accused, the panel members excuse themselves from that particular case.

“We are asked to determine if the sexual misconduct policy was violated,” said Cornish. “Every case, our primary question is whether the policy was violated. If the answer is ‘yes’ then we go through the possible sanctions.” Both Cornish and O’Leary expressed past struggles with the wide range and flexibility in sanctions available.

Several people present helped clarify the difference between Goucher’s sexual misconduct policy and process, and the legal system and proceedings. Cornish and O’Leary both stressed that throughout the process, both parties are given the opportunity to go to authorities outside of Goucher.

“This is hard work and we do this for the love of students,” said Cornish. “When Michael and I started this we didn’t meet often. The policy is working. People are complaining. People are coming forward…We have the safety of every student at heart in our decisions.”

Another discussion with Professors Nsenga Burton, Seble Dawit, and David Zurawik will focus on social media frenzy and slander. The date and time for this panel has not been announced yet.

Possible Admissions Policy Changes Affect Future Goucher Students

Kaitlin Higgins
Global Editor

As colleges and universities throughout the country struggle with the nation’s economic climate, Goucher has begun taking steps to analyze some of its admissions and financial aid practices. While the school currently operates on a predominantly need-blind admissions process—meaning that financial need is not taken into consideration when making an admissions decision—new data analysis could provide reason for change.
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Club Travel Policy Changes After Students Voice Concern

Benjamin Snyder
Managing Editor

Senior staff members convened on Friday, September 28 to revise for a second time this semester a five-year-old student trips policy requiring student clubs and organizations on campus to bring along a faculty advisor and pay for professional transportation services for trips taking place outside of a 250-mile radius from the college’s campus.The plan will be in effect on a trial basis for the next academic year.

“I think the plan is to go back to SGA with this policy and have it in place for a year, see how things go and if we need to tweak it and make more changes then we can certainly do that here throughout the year,” said Assistant General Counsel Barbara Stob, who helped draft the policy along with Associate Dean for Student Engagement Emily Perl.

President Sanford Ungar signed an earlier version of the policy into action at the start of the semester. Discussions with students during an SGA meeting attended by the Perl and Stob on Wednesday, September 19 and in outside meetings prompted additional alterations.

At the latest senior staff meeting at the end of September, President Ungar and the college’s Executive Vice Presidents Gail Edmonds, Wendy Litzke, Michael O’leary, Laurie Burton-Graham, Marc Roy, Bill Leimbach, Janet Wiley, Debbie Lupton, Tom Phizacklea, and Allie Laban-Baker, accepted three major changes in the second round of revisions to the policy implemented at the start of the academic year.

According to Executive Vice President and General Counsel Burton-Graham, the reason behind the call for the revision was “in response to student concerns.” She continued, representatives “of the clubs suggested some changes to the policy” and senior staff accepted revisions made by Perl and Stob “to still maintain our efforts to maintain liability and student safety while also putting a little more flexibility into the policy to address student concerns.”

Perl enumerated the policy changes in an email on October 2 to Student Government Association President Dashell Fittry ’13. In the previous policy, advisers were “required and no student drivers [could] drive on trips outside the Baltimore/DC region.” In the latest version, however, “we have expanded the region to be any trip within a 250-mile radius of Goucher.  This expands the area quite dramatically and makes the decision-making process much more clear.”

In addition, the latest version of the policy also increases the number of individuals responsible for waiving decisions to allow students the ability to travel. Perl wrote, “Where it said that exceptions would be made at the sole discretion of the Associate Dean for Student Engagement, we are now saying the decision would be made by the Associate Dean for Student Engagement in consultation with legal counsel.  This addresses the concern that some students expressed about one person being the sole decision-maker.”

Finally, a change was made in which the policy for overnight trips can now be waived when it stated previously, “any overnight trips outside of the Baltimore/DC region must utilize planes, trains, busses or other vehicles driven by professional drivers.” In addition to the new 250-mile radius exemption, Perl wrote, “We have added language to this part of the policy stating that here, too, [there are] exceptions.”

Stob noted that the most recently revised policy “will go a long way to resolving the problems that were mentioned by the students. It was never our intention to cut off all these trips. It was really about looking at what was happening and making it safer.”

Ungar agreed to the revisions of the five-year-old policy after discussions occurred over the summer. The reason for the changes, explained Stob, was due to Perl’s awareness of two trips, the Ultimate Frisbee Team’s Spring Break trip and the New Orleans service trip.

“Having an official college trip that has no controls or accountability just raises some concerns about using college money,” Stob explained. “I think there were general concerns about trips of that nature, longer-term trips, that were going on.”

Stob did, however, imply that the revision of the policy may have been premature without initial student input. “[It] was developed to addressed those concerns without really realizing that there were many shorter term trips that we just didn’t know about because they hadn’t been reported,” she said.

To help draft the first revision, President Ungar asked for additional research by researching schools of similar size and basing the policy off previous examples. ”

Stob explained, “Sandy asked us to [look at other schools’ policies], which he usually does whenever we’re looking at a policy. There are some colleges that don’t have requirements; there are many that do. This policy falls in the mid-range. Most require advisors or faculty and staff representatives to go along.”

Both Burton-Graham and Stob expressed their pleasure with the student body’s reaction to the policy and the conversation that came from the initial SGA meeting about the new policy. “I went with Emily to the SGA meeting, and I haven’t been to an SGA meeting for a while, but I have to tell you I was very impressed by the tone of the conversation; it was very respectful.” She continued, “They made really good points and we listened to them and made changes to the policy because as I said it wasn’t our intention to impose an unworkable policy on students.”
According to Burton-Graham, the senior staff members were “pleased by two things. First, that we had this discussion, and that the administration and students could work together and come to an improved policy that addresses everyone’s concerns.” She continued, “Secondly, it was made very clear to me and I passed it along to senior staff that Barbara and Emily felt that the discussions with students had been very respectful and helpful with everyone recognizing and acknowledging the other’s concerns.”

Fittry, meanwhile, said, “I’m very glad to see that the constructive and insightful input of students helped to change this policy for the better and fill many of the gray areas which were contained within the first draft.” He continued, “I think this is a great example of how working together with the administration can produce results each party supports.”

But Fittry also promised, “the conversation [about the policy] will not stop. As feedback from this policy begins to roll in we will continue to work with clubs and the administration to deal with any problems or concerns and push for changes when the need arises.”

He believes that “the vast majority of clubs will not be effected in the least. The only real ‘roadblock’ students will face will be one additional, though quick, form to complete.”
Additionally, Fittry explained that if future problems arise, “the students should know that the SGA will support them and work to make any additional changes.”