November 17, 2006

Boyer, Michel reflect on College

Dean of the College John Boyer discussed the U of C’s missions in the most recent of a series of town hall meetings on Wednesday. Bill Michel, associate dean of the College and assistant vice president for Student Life, joined Boyer to discuss the topic “Teaching and Learning in the College Today.”

Boyer focused on the history of the student body as a context for University life today. He reviewed several charts showing changes in student enrollment over the past century. One graph showed that even after years of class expansion, the College’s current enrollment of 4,650 students is lower than that of peer institutions Columbia University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University.

Boyer pointed to sustained efforts over the past two decades to seek more qualified applicants.

“In 1980, we basically had open admissions—if you could afford to pay and didn’t have a criminal record,” he said jokingly.

Boyer expressed general satisfaction with the College’s current projects. He spoke highly of the University’s new study-abroad center in Paris, the maintenance of the Core, and measures to improve the quality of student life.

“We have something really precious that you don’t often find,” he said.

Michel reviewed current University undertakings. “Ratner and Reynolds Club… are the bookmarks of the new student life quads,” Michel said.

Focus is now shifting toward projects south and east of the quads, especially the new dorm under construction at 6000 South Ellis Avenue, preliminary plans for an arts center nearby, and a new home for diversity-themed groups at 5710 South Woodlawn Avenue, Michel said.

When asked about what is missing from current plans, Boyer pointed to raising awareness of the University in order to expand the applicant pool and assist alumni who have expressed frustration over being confused with graduates of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I think we’ve got a big communication job to do,” Boyer said. “You can’t run a major university nowadays without supporting your alumni. The University has tried.”