President Pamela Davies makes big decisions with big money on a small campus, but she hopes to change that last part.
As part of the strategic five-year plan, the university intends to grow Queens’ traditional undergraduate population from around 1,200 students to 2,000 in the coming years, she said in an interview with a Chronicle reporter.
While an increase of students might create the campus vibrancy some students feel Queens is lacking, it will also cause a need for even more structural and academic changes, Davies said.Queens is in the midst of several construction projects. In the last three to five years, Queens has completed about $100 million worth of infrastructure additions, Davies said. More projects are in the works now. Additions to Burwell Hall, including the Hall Brown Terrace, are currently being worked on. Renovations of Walker Hall and the E.H Little Fine Arts Center will be started in the coming years.
But to fit 800 more students, more residence halls, more facilities—more construction will be necessary.
“You have to invest in campus infrastructure,” Davies said, referring to the need to accommodate the new students.
Queens will also need to evolve academically to accommodate the influx of students, Davies said.
The introduction of a new general education program will begin in the spring 2015 semester and course credit will move from three to four hours per class. Queens will also need more faculty to teach the growing population, Davies said.
With all this change occurring at Queens, Davies still tries to connect with the more than 2,400 students already at Queens.
“I try to attend sporting events,” she said. “I was on sabbatical last year, so I really missed that.”
She also goes to campus events like the Moravian Love Feast as well as special events for students throughout the year—and, when requested by teachers, speaks in classrooms, she said.
Communication with the Student Government Association (SGA) is another great way for Davies and the Board of Trustees to recognize students’ wants and needs, Davies said.
“Since I’ve been president, we’ve added the [SGA] president to the Board of Trustees,” she said. “And that individual provides great linkage to the student voice.”
Davies also connects with students by traveling with them. Every other year, she and her husband choose two John Belk International Program trips to travel three to four days with.
“There’s no better way to get to know students than to travel with them for three or four days,” she said. “So, it’s a phenomenal experience that we appreciate so much.”
Davies and her husband normally buy the group a free dinner on the last night.
“We say, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch,’’” Davies said. “’You gotta tell us about this, this and this.’ ’”
On those trips with students, Davies is always reminded of Queens students’ confidence, she said.
“They believe and know they’ve been so well educated,” she said. “When I first came to Queens, that’s the one thing I noticed when I first started graduating students.”
Davies recently met an alumnus who works in the social media business. He told Davies that Queens couldn’t possibly have prepared him for his job—it didn’t exist when he graduated.
“He said, ‘What you did is what you made me learning-agile,’ ” Davies said. “‘You helped me learn how to learn.’ ”
The Core and international travel programs—among others— are what help students learn agilely, but the new general education system will continue the legacy of helping students to be learning-agile, she said.
Queens continues to change and evolve, but Davies recognizes the need to connect with students.
But, “I think I could always do better,” she said.