On Nov. 8, President Timothy Trainor held a town hall-style forum in Cardinal Keeler Dining Room with members of the student body to update them on recent university issues and allow an opportunity to ask questions.
Trainor was joined by Vice President and Chief of Staff Wayne Green, Dean of Students Kenneth McVearry and Director of Campus Activities Joseph Enste Jr. to help answer questions from students about issues including the approval of the Strategic Plan, plans for increasing enrollment, finding alternative recreational spaces and improving student life.
Strategic Plan: Trainor and Green summarized a few of the key objectives that will be initiated in the first year of the five-year Strategic Plan, which cover a number of different areas.
One objective, called “Voice of the Mount,” will provide members of the Mount Community, particularly students, the chance to communicate directly with the administration through a system that could potentially be incorporated into the “My Mount Hub” app. Here students could provide information about possible security concerns, feedback on events or opinions on campus issues.
Other areas include focusing on the retention of current students, through the use of support systems like Mount Cares and the Center for Student Engagement and Success, as well as growing total enrollment, of the university from approximately 1,650 to 2,000 undergraduates and the seminary from 146 to 160 seminarians, in five years.
Enrollment: Reaching these enrollment goals will take a “multi-prong approach,” Trainor stated. One of the most important methods of achieving this is by offering a curriculum that potential students will want to partake in. The Mount will do this by continuing to broaden its offerings in majors and studies.
Other methods include increasing Division I athletic opportunities and co-curricular opportunities. For example, starting next fall, the Mount will partner with the Daughters of Charity to pilot a new program focused on service. Similar to a study abroad experience, students will be sent to work for a semester with a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, where, in addition to earning academic credit by taking remote courses, they will earn service learning credits.
Recreational Spaces: Trainor revealed that Campus Activities has had to find alternative spaces to house campus events after learning from a recent review by the fire marshal that usual locations, namely Purcell Hall/1808 and the Mount Café, have capacity limitations that are lower than expected. Cardinal Keeler Dining Room has been serving as the main alternative location for the time being, but Green mentioned that ideas are being developed for the possible construction of a new recreational space on the eastern side of campus.
Student Life: The forum was also used by Trainor to address students with regard to a recent incident where a student violated the Mount’s Student Code of Conduct by posting a picture of himself and another student with an inappropriate caption on social media. Trainor stated that the student showed “terrible judgement” in his post. He also stated that some of the responses to the original post by others amounted to “cyberbullying.”
“We’ve got to elevate our game at the Mount,” Trainor said. “We don’t want to have cyberbullying where we treat people disrespectfully in the cyber arena or in person.”
McVearry added that the university was looking into developing a social media use policy, but stressed that such a development would be essential “to get right so as not to overstep our [the university’s] reach, while also provide for students’ safety.” He also mentioned that the university was looking into employing educational efforts to prevent this issue from reoccurring.
Trainor urged students to “stop and think” before posting on social media, because once a message is posted, it could theoretically last forever.
“Let’s learn from this, and let’s learn how to treat people appropriately, both in open dialogue, but also in an electronic environment,” he continued.