Rethinking the research institution

University officials must make it clear whether research is valued over teaching.

The University’s plan for the future Web site, under the FAQ section, poses the question, “If becoming a top research university is the goal, will the University continue to promote its education and public service mission?” The answer provided states that the mission of the University has and will always be, “education, research and public service.”

The goals are listed in that order with education at the forefront of the University’s mission. It reads on that by “strengthening the University it will be in a better position to provide education, public service and groundbreaking research emphasizing the ‘public’ in a public university.”

For some, it is hard to take University administration at its word considering education rarely feels at the forefront of a research university’s concerns, and these goals were also the core mission of the General College. Nevertheless, when looking at the entire University, the University’s plan for the future has the potential to help students a great deal.

Going to such a large University presents many challenges for students. It’s no secret that the graduation rates of University students have been a concern for University administration. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, only 27 percent of students at the University graduate in four years or less. These graduation rates are unacceptable for students and the state.

If University officials are serious about strengthening the University in its plan for the future, they should invest heavily in student support, especially in the area of advising. Students need a sense of belonging and commitment to succeed in their studies; having the advising support they need is critical to that success. Officials should emphasize the commitment they have to education by hiring professors that see teaching as the most important part of their job.

The responsibility of receiving a diploma should fall upon the shoulders of the student. However, the University should not make it harder for students to succeed once they get here.