STORY BY BETH LEVALLEY
President Martin visited Student Senate this week and passed along updates about what he has been doing as the president of Drake University.
While he is still working on getting familiar with Drake University, he is also visiting areas of Iowa to reintroduce Drake to businesses in the community.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this place,” Martin said. “They’re really proud of what you’re doing and what the future holds. We’re excited about the partnership that exists between Drake and Des Moines.”
On campus, Martin has scheduled 34 meetings with various staff members and departments and just completed his 30th meeting. In these meetings, he asks what Drake does well, what Drake’s weaknesses are and where Drake’s future looks like. These questions help him to better understand Drake’s atmosphere.
He will then analyze the notes from these meetings and create a plan that will be looked over by the same staff to resolve any problems.
Rather than a strategic plan that lasts six to seven years, Martin plans to create a “continuous improvement plan,” which will be built on the balanced scorecard model.
“It enables us to really set some lofty goals as expressed by performance measures,” said Martin. “For example, we might say we want to improve first to second year retention rate to 92 percent, and we’re at 88.6 percent now.”
The board still has to approve of this plan, but once the board approves of it there will be more concrete actions taken.
Safety has also been a priority Martin has addressed in his first few weeks as president.
“I’ve got to say, it has been… eye opening, to say the least,” said Martin. “We’ve had a few events this summer, and then of course, we had a number of events these past two weeks. This is troubling, and it’s gotten an awful lot of attention in the area.”
Drake has hired a Des Moines police officer to patrol campus from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and security also added another SafeRide bus to make rounds around campus.
Martin met with Franklin Cownie, mayor of Des Moines, to discuss what else Drake can do to ensure safety on and around campus.
“What we’re also looking for is ‘what’s something big we can do to improve the environment and the Drake neighborhood?’ This is our neighborhood,” said Martin. “It’s not just about campus safety… but, it’s also about using our resources and our talents and our abilities so that our neighbors see opportunities in their lives other than these tragedies.”
To end his speech, Martin addressed one thing that surprised him: how strong the educational experience is at Drake.
“Drake University is in the 97th percentile for after-graduate success,” said Martin. “That means that we are in the top three percent out of all institutions in this country, and that includes ivy leagues, every school you think of, Drake is right up there.”
Martin plans to use these positive statistics to focus on admissions more aggressively.
Associate Dean of Students Dr. Jerry Parker updated the Senate about the campus climate survey, and both he and President Kevin Maisto were surprised that 81 percent of the student body was unsatisfied with student-to-student interactions.
Through this conversation, questions were raised about the SafeHaven program, which is required for students this year.
“In regards to the students that don’t want to do it because they don’t want to do it, my apologies,” said Parker. “That’s just not an excuse we’re going to accept.”
Parker continued to talk about how students should be looking out for each other and intervening when it matters.
“It is a collective effort. There is a high correlation between alcohol and sexual misconduct. Not all the time, but the statistics do not lie,” said Parker. “At the end of the day, we all need to make sure that we’re protecting each other in our campus community. If you see something that doesn’t look like it’s going to end very well, intervene.”
Parker emphasized that the college is doing everything it can to educate students and reinforce that there is zero retaliation.
“The other thing I want to address is consent,” said Parker. “No means no. Yes can turn into no. There might’ve been a yes the day before; that does not mean there’s a yes the next day. Respect each other.”
On a more positive note, the Senate passed their vision statement and approved of the committees for this year.
Senate also allocated $4,955 for the Drake Lacrosse Club, which will go toward 15 sets of equipment and one set of goalie equipment. Senate hopes that this equipment will help the lacrosse club gain more stable members and last for a number of years at Drake.