Message from President Leahy: It’s time for you to be heard

Patrick F. Leahy, President

As a university  president, I meet with a lot of people – alumni, faculty, government officials – but if you ask me which constituency is most important, I’ll tell you: our students.


Students are the reason why Wilkes exists. Educating you is what we are here to do. I am sincere when I say that I weigh every decision by saying “What’s the best decision for our students?” Everything we do is done with an eye on making your experience at Wilkes better.


Of course, if I remember my student days, you’ll tell me that all classes must be scheduled at noon or later and that serving prime steak in the cafeteria would make your experience better. I would have enjoyed that version of college life too!  All joking aside — my presidency is committed to making your four years at Wilkes great ones. I want to hear thoughtful suggestions about how we can do things better.


At this point, you might be thinking, “That’s fine, but no one ever asks me how to make things better at Wilkes. “ If you’ve met me during my first seven months at Wilkes, whether it was in one of your classes or strolling across the greenway, you’ll probably remember that I asked for your feedback and your opinion. I often turn those suggestions over to other administrators to follow up on them. Recently, we asked for your feedback about expanding our athletic programs. But even if I spent part of every day meeting with students, I still wouldn’t be able to collect enough information to help me to do my job.


In the next few weeks, many of you will have a chance to give your feedback. In odd-numbered years, like 2013, we administer something called the Student Satisfaction Survey. We aim to poll 35 to 40 percent of our students by administering a written survey in selected classes. We do this by selecting a representative sample of just over one-third of enrolled undergraduate and pharmacy students, selected in such a way that it best reflects the opinions of our entire student body. For those of you studying statistics, this will sound familiar.


We ask students who take the survey to comment on a broad spectrum of items – from campus life to instructional effectiveness and academic advising. We ask if you find our university to be student centered – one that supports you and makes you feel part of campus. And we also have questions about something called campus climate, assessing whether you are proud of the university and feel connected to Wilkes.


I take this survey seriously. It’s a good way to ask a large group of students what we’re doing right and, just as importantly, where there is room for improvement.  If your class is one of those chosen to take the survey, please answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully. I want to assure you that I’ll be studying the results and using them to chart the University’s course during my presidency. In the past, results of the survey helped to identify the need for a new student center and to make improvements to food services and public safety. Specific departments, such as student services or academic advising, receive information from the survey that can help them to improve services.


As human beings, we’re tempted to think that an impersonal survey will have no impact on the day-to-day things that affect our lives. But at Wilkes, the Student Satisfaction Survey has the potential to do that. If you give your time and attention to answer the questions, I promise that I’ll listen to what you have to say.  And if  you aren’t asked to complete a Student Satisfaction Survey, feel free to share your ideas with me anyway. You can email me at [email protected].