February 28, 2008
An open letter to students:
I feel that it is a good time to speak out personally and directly to you, our students, regarding some of the current concerns on our campus:
In light of the recent on-campus incidents, I would like to remind you of the security measures in place that work to protect all of you 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Although existing measures are reassuring, safety and security must be a joint effort between the university and all members of the campus community.
I refer you to KU’s Crime Alert Web page located in our Announcements Section http://www.kutztown.edu/safety/crimealert.aspx, where you and your parents can find detailed information of events that happened on campus, and the many security measures in place.
Please understand that we must be sensitive to police investigations, and sometimes we cannot release information related to a case. We try to keep faculty, staff and students informed of every event that happens on campus as quickly as we are able.
Dealing with severe weather is always a dilemma. Many times the weather patterns are not clear until it is too late to make a decision. What seems logical at 6 a.m. does not work at 10 a.m.
I rely on information provided by KU’s Public Safety and Police Services, State Police and our facilities crews. It is a very difficult balancing act.
On February 13, for example, the information we had early in the morning indicated that we would have snow. Our Facilities Department reported that it was able to clean sidewalks and parking lots by 7 a.m. Unfortunately, the precipitation changed to ice and rain very quickly, creating a difficult situation for all.
Conversely, on February 22 the forecast was for snow changing to ice and continuing throughout the entire day and evening. By 6 a.m. our ground crews reported they could not keep the parking lots clean or the sidewalks passable, so we closed for the day… just to see the storm passing by and conditions getting much better by early afternoon.
We do not have “snow make-up days” as the school districts do, so every class that is cancelled needs to be rescheduled. We understand that rescheduled times may be inconvenient for faculty and students alike, and we encourage faculty to work with students when these situations arise.
I continually receive e-mails from students voicing their displeasure to some of my decisions related to university closings. I can understand your frustration, but I reassure you I keep all the university’s constituents in mind when making these decisions.
Parking can be challenging, especially for our commuter students. Over the past few years many changes have been made to improve the parking situation on our campus.
In 2004, a manager was hired to oversee and administer parking services. A zoned parking plan was established to help evenly distribute the vehicles on campus. This phased plan has helped to reduce traffic and time spent looking for a space to park, as each student is assigned to areas according to their needs. An additional 1,274 parking spaces have been added to provide additional parking on both North and South campus. As with most universities, during the peak hours the most coveted spaces are filled quickly, there are however, many spaces that remain open, although the space may not be in the most convenient location.
All monies received from the parking fees are earmarked for upkeep, maintenance and improvements of the parking lots and campus roadways. One such improvement is the new solar panel lighting that was installed in the Fairgrounds parking lot.
I have also received several inquiries about our ticketing procedures. Please be reminded that the university has a Traffic Bureau committee comprising faculty, staff and students who hear and adjudicate ticket appeals on campus. Students are always welcome to appeal their tickets in person and/or make suggestions for parking and transportation improvements.
One of the issues raised is the fact that Kutztown University has grown over the last five years. Indeed we have. We are a public, state-owned institution. I have repeatedly said that we are a selective institution, and we are also an access institution. We have the responsibility (even the obligation) to provide access to higher education to all qualified Pennsylvanians who choose to pursue their studies with us.
I meet regularly with Kutztown alumni, and I often hear some variation of “Kutztown gave me a chance, and look where I am now.” This confirms our role in providing access to higher education to all students who are academically qualified to be accepted here.
I have also heard concerns about Dixon Hall, our new residence hall set to open this fall. Some students believe we will increase our enrollment in order to fill new beds. I would like to clarify that Dixon Hall will allow us to convert some of the triple accommodations in our current residence halls back to doubles. It will also help us accommodate some of the current students while we renovate a few of the older residence halls.
I have previously discussed the demographic trends that have affected our institution. I refer you to the attached graphic which shows the dramatic increase in the number of high school graduates in Pennsylvania from 2002 to present. The table also demonstrates that the number of high school graduates has leveled, and will start to decline in 2010. It will significantly decline by 2016.
APSCUF-KU Vote of No Confidence
The issue of my presidency and its relationship to the scheduled APSCUF-KU vote of no confidence has sparked much debate.
First of all, I want to thank the Student Government Board for issuing a resolution to remain neutral in all matters in relation to a no confidence vote by APSCUF regarding my Presidency. I believe this is the healthiest position for students, since this is an issue that needs to be resolved by APSCUF and my management team.
I want you to know that I am ready to work with the faculty union to move forward. At the end of this e-mail I am copying a letter I sent yesterday to our faculty, that describes my plan to begin this process. My most important concern is, and always has been, to ensure we provide you with the best educational experience possible.
As you may be aware, I hold two open meetings with students each semester, with the purpose of keeping a closer communication with the student body. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday March 4 at 11 a.m. in 260 Boehm. I hope to see many of you at this meeting.
Thank you for your time and best of luck with your studies.
F. Javier Cevallos