Marrero Talks Spring Commencement, FYE Program and Reflects on His First Semester as President

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

Last week, the Inkwell interviewed with University President Dr. Kyle Marrero for the last time this semester, and discussed spring commencement, the FYE program, the future of this campus and his thoughts about how his first semester as president has gone. 

 

Spring Commencement

Marrero confirmed the spring commencement ceremonies for Armstrong students will be on this campus. The specifics of the ceremony like the location and time have not been decided. 

Marrero said they won’t be using the Civic Center or Convention Center as venues in the spring because they weren’t available. 

“Once the decision was made, we checked all the availability and it wasn’t available… We’re going to make the decision that’s best for students and then figure out the venues after.”

Regarding how parking may play out for those ceremonies, “So we’re talking about everything from utilizing parking here and providing shuttles or even [utilizing parking] over at the Armstrong Center… but making sure we’re getting people back and forth so they don’t have to walk it directly. So that’s what we’re looking at right now.”

 

Challenges of the Job

 While Marrero considers himself a “glass half-full” person he did admit that some of the biggest challenges of the job so far are the consolidation and budget.

“I knew consolidation obviously was going to be a challenge culturally: the distinctiveness, the value of both campuses and where they could see themselves in that. And I think the challenge is that they can see a better future than they had before post-consolidation, and that’s where the strategic plan is coming in… And I think that’s the challenge is for people to see themselves in that moving forward.”

“Budget is the second challenge; you know with the declining enrollment from the previous year and then what we’re facing from an allocation reduction… So, we’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions that both institutions haven’t had to face in recent history. My first 90 days was going through some of the largest budget reductions in the history of the institutions and I’m proud of how we did that from an efficiency and effectiveness standpoint and how we ensure the people that were in place in jobs didn’t lose their jobs, that we really focused on vacant positions and then operational efficiencies to reduce operational costs.”

 

First-Year Experience (FYE) Program 

Marrero said administration is planning on revising the FYE program. 

“We’re absolutely committed to having the different modules within the course itself, which is academic mindset, financial literacy and diversity inclusion… we want to look at that and assess and make sure that the advisors were all trained, the faculty that were teaching were trained, they went through a training module… was it perfect? No. Can we make it better? Absolutely.”

Regarding whether or not more professors will be brought in to teach the class instead of advisors, “we’re gonna assess all of that and there’s a financial component there too. You gotta understand that faculty were paid $3,000 a course to teach it… If I want any takeaway out of this is it’s I’ve been in higher education for 26 years. I’ve been at it four different institutions during that time period. I’ve seen it where advisors teach it at all and where faculty teach it all or some combination. The best practices model in some cases end up being the advisors, particularly when it’s a prescribed curriculum of onboarding freshman. Faculty are incredible at teaching when you give them academic freedom… Let’s look at it all and really assess what we need to be best for the outcome of the students.”

 

Looking To The Future

On the topic of what topic of what events to look forward to next semester, Marrero recommended three Town Hall discussions he’ll be hosting over the course of the semester. The topics will be privilege, respect and social responsibility panel discussion in December, social justice in February and gender and sexuality in March. 

 

As we close out the semester, Marrero wants us to keep in mind that we should feel thankful for the opportunity to be a family and friends. “We can never forget as part of our vision statement; ‘People, Purpose, Action: Growing ourselves to grow others’ in the community. If we want to create the optimal environment on our campus we will need to continually care for each other,  our colleagues and our students as well as provide the best environment we can.”