Story by Hayleigh Syens
Newly elected Student Body President Joey Gale hosted the inaugural State of the University Address on Wednesday.
The first speaker was David Karaz, the current student body president. He congratulated the Drake University student for prioritizing academics and leadership over other aspects of student life.
Karaz then discussed how the student body can improve as a whole. He discussed how planning ahead is “not necessarily our (the student body’s) biggest strength.”
“More often than not, we lose information we gained in past years and go guns blazing into what we want to change,” Karaz said.
He suggested that collaboration between student groups on campus would improve this. There are a lot of student clubs and organizations all trying to put on events at the same time. Events overlap and students cannot possible attend each one.
Debra DeLaet, the current Faculty Senate president, also spoke at the address.
“I think (the university) is in a period of flux,” said DeLaet. “We’re in the midst of a climate where conversations are taking place and we aren’t quite sure how to move forward.”
She mentioned that Drake is a part of a discourse at a national level where there are debates about higher education and student loans. It was stressed that Drake needs to be more affordable.
A large section of DeLaet’s speech was dedicated to discussing a potential change to the Drake curriculum.
A new curriculum model has not ben agreed on, nor has a vote taken place regarding implementing a change. Some proposed changes include getting rid of the Areas of Inquiry program and replacing it with a required minors program. Students would be required to complete two minors outside of their major college.
“I can’t promise too much about where we’re going to land, but there is a great deal of enthusiasm for the possibility of change,” DeLaet said.
The final speaker was retiring University President David Maxwell. He described the current state of Drake as “excellent” and mentioned that Drake has an 88.7% retention rate, placing Drake in the top ten percent of all four-year masters universities in the country.
“Drake is what we told you it was going to be when you got here. We’re keeping the promise of Drake,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell discussed that Drake is planning to expand slightly since undergraduate applications have more than doubled in the past six years. He is confident that the campus can support larger classes of students without a change in the quality of education.
The current challenge that Drake is facing is a drop in applications to the law school. However, this is a problem across campuses like Drake nationwide.
For the current $200 million fundraising campaign for Drake, $163 million has been raised so far. Maxwell said that there have been over 37,000 contributors, with the biggest gift so far being $3 million.
To improve student safety on campus, Maxwell discussed plans to install a one-card swipe system on external doors of all buildings of campus. This will make it much easier to perform a campus lockdown if the situation ever arises.
Student senators have also worked with campus security to create the RAVE app, which is a mobile blue light. The phone app will make it easier for students to feel safe walking through campus at night.