Students bid farewell to Randel at brown bag

By Nora Granville

The mood was bittersweet at the final brown bag lunch of Don Randel’s presidency yesterday in the McCormick Lounge.

The forum provided an opportunity for students to have some final words with Randel and Vice President and Dean of Students Steve Klass before both finish up their time at the U of C.

Klass recently announced that he is leaving the University to become vice president for operations at Williams College.

The lunch began with a toast to Randel, as students and administrators thanked him for continuing to make himself available to the University community. Throughout Randel’s presidency, the brown bag lunches have provided an opportunity for open dialogue between students and administrators.

Student Government vice-president Phil Caruso said a few words in honor of Randel’s work for the University and presented him with a basket of gifts from student RSOs.

The discussion ranged from recent changes and progress in the University to efforts to engage the local community.

In response to a question regarding the transition between presidents, Randel said he had just had a meeting that morning with the incoming president Robert Zimmer, currently the provost at Brown University.

“He knows the University very well,” Randel said. “He has been around quite a lot lately, meeting people.”

Randel discussed how the University must try to combine academic rigor with a vibrant social environment.

“While we don’t want to make the workload any easier, we want everyone to know that we care for you to succeed,” Randel said.

Asked about what had been the most important change achieved during his presidency, Randel replied that the University had made a significant push for greater racial diversity.

“It’s everyone’s job to think about diversity,” Randel said. “This place should be the best place in the country for an African American or a Latino or other minority groups because of the fact that we’re in this amazing city with its rich culture of diversity.”

Commenting about diversity, Klass said, “Since ’95, there has been a revolution in the way we think about student life.”

He commended the University’s effort to generate a greater sense of community as well as the success of new facilities, services, and programs.

Regarding the interaction between the University and the surrounding community, Randel discussed the University’s multi-pronged effort to engage and give back. He mentioned the need to combine efforts to improve the police, housing, and schools.

Randel also stressed that the University takes community needs into account, while other universities support commercial development so students can shop at The Gap.

He went on to commend the hundreds of students who volunteer in the community.

“If you come to the U of C, you give back to the Hyde Park community,” Randel said.

Reflecting on their time at the U of C, Randel and Klass discussed the University’s unique role in academia.

“This place really stands for something that no place else really does,” Randel said.