It recently came to my attention that Maryville College has suffered a budget shortfall that is forcing cutbacks and requires the firing of several staff and faculty. ["Cuts at Maryville College Touch a Nerve," Citybeat by Chris Barrett, May 14, 2009] I wanted to voice my support for these individuals who are at risk of losing their jobs.
It is especially disconcerting that Dave Powell is among those in this position. My time at Maryville College was fundamental in forming who I am today, and Dave Powell played a large role in this. In the most recent issue of Focus, Dean Fager discussed the importance of developing a brand image for Maryville College. Well, for me, Dave Powell is at the heart of what Maryville College should stand for. Both inside and outside of the classroom, Powell was a passionate advocate for intellectual curiosity, academic rigor, and social responsibility. Developing a brand is meaningless if the elements that give the brand meaning are undercut.
While I urge the college to reconsider its decision, I also would like to encourage leadership to include the entire Maryville College community in struggling with the current economic difficulties. After hearing the news of the recent firings, I was shocked that I hadn't heard of Maryville College's struggles sooner. I understand the desire to project a generally positive demeanor to the community, but it seems ill-advised to leave the alumni uninformed or at best reliant on Facebook for news.
As an alumna that lives three time zones away, I rely on the e-mails, letters, and Focus to keep updated on the comings and goings of campus. I know that MC has changed since I moved away, but I'd always assumed that it was always progressing forward. For the first time since leaving, I'm in a comfortable financial position to give back, and I find myself worried that my money won't be used in the best way.
I hope that Maryville College can find an efficient way around this budget shortfall that doesn't include the firing of outstanding teachers like Dave Powell, and perhaps, that begins with being more forthright with its alumni.
Paul Sacksteder, Maryville College '00, Las Vegas, Nev.