President Keefe: in defense of the New College

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President Keefe’s New College proposal has ignited passionate debate within the university. Photo courtesy of the University of Dallas.

In recent weeks, I have been encouraged by the passionate voices that have been raised in support of the ideals of the University of Dallas. While I disagree with certain conclusions and false statements that have been articulated as facts, and I regret the tone that the discourse has taken, I am fortified by the fact that everyone involved in discussions about the proposed adult degree completion program and other possible options for generating revenue are firm in their conviction to act in the best interest of this amazing university.

No academic program is introduced at the University of Dallas without the contribution of our excellent faculty. I am grateful to members of the faculty who are working right now to suggest new academic programs that may expand the university’s academic profile and generate additional revenue. These faculty suggestions will be evaluated based on financial viability and alignment with the university’s mission, just as those metrics will be applied to the proposed adult degree completion program. Thoughtful and civil discussions by individuals who share a passion for this university will always lead to a better final result.

I can say without reservation that we are still collecting data relative to the proposed adult degree completion program. I have asked the provost to develop additional qualitative data to further refine our current assessment.

I have also asked the provost and executive vice president for enrollment management to collect more focused data by working with local corporate partners to determine whether there is a ready cohort of potential students who are limited in their professional growth by the absence of an academic credential and might be able to earn their degrees through the support of their employer.

In addition, because I know that there is more work to be done, I have asked the provost to develop a joint faculty/administrative committee to continue to collect and analyze data. A report to the provost and Faculty Senate regarding the proposal is expected no earlier than September. 

I have said this multiple times in multiple venues, but I will say this once again in hopes of clarifying the point; unless I can state with certainty that the adult degree completion program is aligned with the university mission and offers the promise of future sustainable revenue, I have absolutely no intention of seeking the support of the Board of Trustees or the university community.

There are other promising options that will be developed in coordination with the faculty that will also be considered. We are patiently waiting for the Faculty Senate to deliver a report of their suggestions in the coming months. I am confident that the creative thinkers on our faculty will also suggest exciting, contemporary programs that can lead this university into the future.

As president, I will give thoughtful consideration to any viable, mission aligned suggestion. I expect that the university community will give similar thoughtful consideration to the proposed adult degree completion program. 

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