The Wilkes Beacon is hopeful that the new President will focus more on the needs and accomplishments of the humanities departments.
During his installation as the sixth president of Wilkes University, Patrick Leahy focused on the theme of “Looking back with pride, looking forward with confidence.” Now, The Beacon staff looks forward to a new era under President Leahy and the changes promised under his administration.
For his first year in office, Leahy has stated his intention to get to know the campus. In this process, he plans on visiting with every department. He also plans to learn about the extracurricular organizations on campus.
But after this introductory period, Leahy’s vision will begin to shape the future of Wilkes.
We’ve already seen some positive changes. Leahy has involved the local businesses of Downtown Wilkes-Barre to offer Flex dDollars. This is a great way to immerse students in the culture of Wilkes-Barre while supporting the downtown economy, and we hope to see more interaction with the city.
There have also been major changes have been made to the Wilkes administration. All academic deans now serve as member’s of the president’s board in an attempt to improve communication.
In his installation speech, Leahy mentioned his plan to move his office from UCOM to Weckesser Hall so he can be more visible on campus. This is just one of the ways he is aiming to become more accessible and engaging to faculty, staff and students.
The Beacon staff feels the existing changes, and the ones planned, are heading in the right direction. Looking forward to this new era, there are several areas we hope Leahy will focus on.
Leahy has mentioned several times the importance he hopes to place on humanities at Wilkes. We hope that he follows through with this focus.
From The Beacon’s perspective, humanities have been pushed to the wayside in recent years. With the science building and other advancements in the scientific departments, programs like Communication Studies and English have been ignored. The accomplishments of these departments have been overlooked, and the activities they promote have been overshadowed by some of the more populated disciplines.
We believe this negligence of the humanities at Wilkes is a problem, and there are several major ways that President Leahy can help solve this problem.
The first is through finances. Communication Studies has continued to receive cuts to its budget annually, along with many other programs. These cuts make it difficult to sustain a range of courses within that program. Many communications students have noticed their class choices dwindling. The Beacon would like to see more funding for more classes to allow students to expand in their chosen humanities focus.
Funds could also help support the extracurriculars and events the humanities departments put on. Money funneled through the respective departments could pay for more staff for these organizations, or attendance at beneficial, academic programs like workshops and conferences.
The money is also needed for new equipment for humanities programs. It is vital to have updated tools and software, especially in fields like journalism and integrative media that place an importance on usage of the latest technology.
Graduates from Wilkes will have an advantage entering the work force if they’re up-to-date on the latest trends and how to use new tools and programs. How is that possible if they’re using dated materials? While money is being spent on new labs for pharmacy students or new robotic equipment for engineering students, there should also be aid for new cameras for journalism students.
Besides dated and limited resources, the communication studies program in particular has to deal with being fragmented across campus. Coordinating media cooperation becomes even more difficult when the radio station is in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center, the television station is in the basement of Stark Learning Center, Zebra Communications is in the basement of Breiseth, the debate and speech team is in Fenner Hall and The Beacon is in Conyngham Hall. Oh, and our professors are in Capin Hall.
We need a centralized location to allow Communication Studies students to work together and learn from all of the media sources in one place, rather than the scattered and disorganized state the department is in now. This would also help give the department more of a presence.
Leahy can also help the presence of the humanities programs overall by directing more attention to what they do. The same level of publicity applied to the developments in the science programs should be placed on the happenings of all departments.
The Beacon staff hopes Leahy can help give the humanities programs the attention and resources they deserve. Ultimately, we would like to see Leahy look back at Wilkes’ history as a well-rounded liberal arts school – not a science school – and look forward to it regaining that status.