College prioritizes students, campus experience

“Guilford is a small liberal arts college of distinction, doing a few things splendidly,” said Guilford College President Jane Fernandes in her inaugural address.

Is that the best thing for the college’s future?

Based on the above quote, one would think that Guilford College has prioritized spending in a few important areas. What are these areas, and are they best for students and faculty?

“We have a priority and commitment to social justice, academic excellence and to integrity to our values,” said Community Senate President Molly Anne Marcotte.

These priorities are what make Guilford College an impressive liberal arts college and should be supported by the institution’s budget even during a financial crisis. Spreading funding across all areas of the college is only going to produce an average school that has no special draw for incoming students.

Community Senate officers have highlighted the recent cuts in student organizations across the board. These cuts have been made in order to deal with the budget crisis and balance income and expenditures at Guilford while continuing to fund operational and maintenance costs. According to Greensboro News & Record, this strategy has resulted in a restructured staff and a moratorium on filling teaching vacancies.

A hold on filling teaching vacancies may not be ideal in the eyes of students and faculty, but it is a necessary action if the college wants to balance its budget. Not filling these vacant positions will prevent any further faculty layoffs.

“The school is focusing its budget on the students,” said Community Senate Assistant Treasurer and sophomore Ezra Stark.

While students and faculty may not realize it, Guilford has their best interests at heart. On the Strategic Priorities Oversight Committee website, the three categories of priorities are affirming the centrality of students, improving the campus experience and strengthening our standing among external constituents.

“It is a good idea to concentrate on things we can and really excel at those as opposed to trying to be a large university on a small college budget,” said Community Senate Treasurer and senior Kahlil Perine.

Guilford may not have the same resources or opportunities as a larger university. It may not offer state-of-the-art facilities or as many majors as other colleges. However, a focus on social justice, academic excellence and integrity to the College’s values would not be possible if the College did not make these things a priority in all areas of administration.

“Conceptually Guilford is a small college doing a few things very well, and that is what it should be,” said Stark. “What (Jane Fernandes) is doing is consolidating … so that we do what we do really well.”

With its clear current focus on financial management, the College should continue to pride itself on the areas in which it excels. Students and faculty should understand the necessity of budget cuts and restructuring.

In the future, I hope that Guilford will be able to move past its financial troubles and cultivate its reputation as a small college that bases its priorities around the needs of its students and faculty.