Does Interim President Folt Have Her Priorities in Order?

It won’t be long before Carol Folt makes her first move as Interim PresidentWith all the hubbub surrounding hazing, sexual assault, and excessive drinking that goes on around this school, I thought it was going to be interesting to see what interim President Carol Folt’s first move was going to be. Would it be something to do with the Greek system? The in-progress Great Issues course? How about that nagging meal plan everyon still hates? Some sort of work on experiences for freshmen? What about those initiatives that President Kim started up?

Well, if Joe Asch over at Darblog is correct, it may very well be that Folt is looking to help create a research center for women’s and gender studies. Maybe. 

In a story by the Valley News, available here, Professor Annabel Martin of the Women’s and Gender Studies department was quoted as saying:

Folt also thinks big and encourages others to do the same, said Annabel Martin, chairwoman of the department of women’s and gender studies.

As part of the strategic planning process, Martin and her colleagues had been talking about establishing a new research center for women’s and gender studies. Folt not only gave Martin the resources to visit similar centers at other schools, but also convinced her to think bigger: Rather than focus solely on undergraduate programs, Folt urged Martin to consider having the center include the entire campus by involving the business, medical and engineering schools.

“Carol has been inspirational,” Martin said. “We had a very small plan and she made us think big.”

However, this is just a quote from one professor. Encouraging others to think big is cheap (though giving Prof. Martin the funding to visit other such centers no doubt costs actual money), and it may not be a huge priority for Folt. It may very well be that Folt is simply better at managing subordinates than Kim was, or has recently read How to Win Friends and Influence People.

For example, while Kim was quite supportive of the sports teams during his time here, and made the school’s best hire in recent history with Athletic Director Harry Sheehy, his support for the fine arts was…well, less than enthusiastic. I distinctly remember Ms. Folt dropping by backstage before a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance by the Glee Club my freshman year, and, if my memory isn’t too hazy, she also dropped by backstage during the Theater Department’s production of Hairspray last quarter.

In the end, seeing how she follows up on this will tell us much more about her priorities than a few quotes from one professor.

Sterling C. Beard