Dr. Terry Smith, interim president of Columbia College for the 2013-14 school year, had Launer Auditorium simultaneously laughing and listening intently as he gave the biennial State of the College 2013 address on Sept. 12.
“The state of the college is strong,” Smith said. “And we are only just getting started.”
At the address, Smith touched on the seven institutional values of the college.
- Civility and respect: Smith looked back to Dr. Gerald Brouder’s inaugural address in 1995. Brouder dreamed that the college could be a laboratory for discovery, to which Smith said, “We are such a lab.” In Brouder’s address, he also said he hopes the college develops a reputation as a place where students appreciate learning and faculty appreciate teaching. Smith replied (18 years later), “Dr. Brouder, your expectations of civility and respect had the perhaps-unintended consequence of making teaching a moral act.”
- Lifelong learning: The General Education Task Force (GENEXT), chaired by Dr. Brad Lookingbill, will examine the arts and sciences at Columbia College and what students should know in order to be prepared for full, satisfied lives of servant leadership, Smith said.
- Ethics and citizenship: Smith said the college has an obligation to educate students on how to be an effective American and world citizen. After all, once the students graduate, “all they get is cable TV, the Internet and Facebook.”
- Flexibility and innovation and Quality and improvement: For these two values, Smith listed college accomplishments and initiatives. Here are some:
- The institutional effectiveness initiative, LEAN, rolled out the day before the address.
- The Strategic Initiative Fund is available to finance your game changing idea.
- The Brouder Science Center is an extraordinary space for teaching and learning.
- The music major has been restored after many years of absence.
- The education department had a 90 percent job placement record last year.
- Athletes had a cumulative 3.12 GPA and there were seven NAIA scholar teams.
- Development has reached their $10 million goal for the Tradition Meets Tomorrow Campaign.
- Student Affairs introduced Storm the Gate and Student Pride Fridays.
- The Advanced Learning Lab (ALL) is studying competency-based education to meld outstanding instruction and sophisticated technology to meet the needs of learners in 2023.
- Environmental and fiscal stewardship: The Campus Sustainability Committee is very active. The college has zero debt, but it faces numerous external challenges.
- Student centrism: Quoting Mike Kateman, executive director of Development, Alumni and Public Relations, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” Smith said. The college’s main thing is student academic achievement and development.
Smith’s address was participatory — throughout his speech, he had various members of the campus community stand to be recognized.
He concluded his remarks by talking about the words on the bottom of everyone’s business card: “Vision: A Model Institution” and the importance of that to the college’s mission.
“Columbia College is most definitely doing the work the world wants done,” Smith said. “And it is doing it better all the time.”