Editorial: Failure is not an option

Canisius President and former Griffin editor, John J. Hurley hearteningly highlighted this fact as part of his 2015 Convocation on Wednesday, smiling as he quoted Apollo 13, before stating that he’d hate to hear another line in the same context: “Houston, we have a problem.” At this point, he’s hesitant to say that the College has emerged from its troubles, especially in the currently ambiguous environment of higher education, but he gleefully announced that Canisius College is “stronger than it has been in the past five years.” This paper finds that while the not all chapters in the book of Hurley’s presidency have been positive, they’ve been a necessary part of the story he’s writing.

Aside from (finally) revealing the pronunciation of our recently renovated library’s name (BOW-HICE), which was perhaps the most exciting part of the President’s address, it’s good to hear that the College emerged from the 2014-2015 fiscal year with an Operating Surplus, and this paper finds that this seems like a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the consolidation and creation of the Griff Center for Academic Engagement has certainly paid off. While some were skeptical, given that it seemed all problems were being routed into one office, Assistant Vice President and Director of the Griff Center Annie Dobies’ efforts were effective in raising our retention rate, which has certainly been a point of contention, leading to rationalization of the creation of the new Student Records and Financial Services Center in Bagen Hall. Hurley cited a major explanation for these retention efforts was that students were sick of being shuffled from office to office. It appears to be a simple solution, reducing some of our budget expenses with combining and cross-training of staff while providing one-stop shops in different areas for students.

Additionally, the President’s remarks noted the importance of Vice President for Enrollment Kathleen Davis’ efforts, as we reached our target for new students, falling short by only a few freshmen but making it up through a surplus of transfers. Choosing a small class size, we’re allowing our programs to become more selection, and while this, at first glance, appears to be an excuse for an inability to recruit enough students, Hurley says that we’re, of course, open to a larger number of matriculating students, and we’re looking to expand our reputation within Western New York and increase marketing in other regions, such as the rest of the state, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and others. This paper finds that this expansion is an important step in the future of the college. Our reputation in Western New York is not enough to carry us into the future and other nearby states provide an equidistant market as the rest of the state, particularly Rochester (in comparison to Erie) and Syracuse (a similar distance exists between Buffalo and Cleveland). Furthermore, Hurley’s harking of the “new” Buffalo as a key to our success is indicative of recognition of Canisius on a larger stage, one that we have always acknowledged without necessarily appreciating it.

The clarification of his comments last year regarding the core curriculum gave the five-year President a pleasant humility not always seen by his students, without presenting him in a negative or embarrassed light. He stated that he didn’t wish to reduce the number of core courses, which was an oft found misconstruction of 2014 address; rather, he articulated the critical task of the Core Curriculum Committee to ensure that the courses approved to fulfill the requirements of the Core are aligned with our learning goals. This paper finds such a proposition more agreeable than the mentioned misinterpretation and looks forward to seeing new ways of assessing such courses–hopefully, leading to an improvement in the course evaluations and how seriously they’re taken with both tenured and untenured faculty members.

Perhaps most importantly, the Class of ‘78 alumnus augmented many of his plans for the future of the College by adding his wish for many to be involved in the different processes. He quelled science faculty concerns by saying that they would be able to have input on the science-related facilities planned for Science Hall. He also articulated the fact that many would be involved in the overhaul of the Canisius website, into which the new marketing campaign (not explicitly explained) will be integrated. Hurley vehemently expressed that he wanted all to be proud of the way that the College is portrayed. One of the largest (and easiest) projects for students to become involved in is the Vision Project, rolled out in August, in which all members of the community can input their vision of Canisius in the future. The fact that this is open to the whole campus and all of its members marks a stride in the state of relations between administration and students, putting their feelings of disconnection with the College’s higher-ups back onto them. There’s a challenge to be faced, sitting on the front page of MyCanisius, and, as his contract was renewed for the next five years, it’ll be interesting to see what Hurley makes of the 20/20 Vision he and the whole Canisius population conceives. This paper hopes to see a more convincing “Mission Accomplished” stamped across the final pages of his presidency, whenever those days come.


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