Have you ever wondered why President Stanley does not offer office hours? If you have recently scrolled through the president of the university’s website, you will not find any mention of the ability for students to talk with him or his staff during formally set office hours. I wonder the rationale behind this decision. This potentially limits students’ chances to discuss important matters that affect their academic development. Granted that some issues are better suited to be answered by the Dean of Students (recently left), or in the forum of University Council or by human resources. Other issues, like scholarship or campus involvement, can only be fostered by a dialogue between groups on campus that might otherwise feel disenfranchised.
On a cursory look through the Chronicle of Higher Education, a news source for college and university faculty and administrators, you will find several articles under the heading of “Leadership and Governance” that discuss the importance of establishing a dialogue between the administration and students. One article interviews Lynn Pasquerella, the president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, on the need for better communication on college campuses. Particularly, she notes, “…the best that we can offer students today is the capacity to work with others who are different from themselves in diverse teams. [A form of inclusive excellence] .. And to be adaptable and flexible in a world where the jobs of the future have not yet been invented.” Pasquerella in this article stresses that communication among diverse groups is important in liberal education.
At several other universities, the chief executive offers individual meetings with students as a way for the campus community to discuss concerns, questions and thoughts that are important to them. While some presidents limit the appointment time to be 15 minutes a student (due to attendance), others allow for more liberal amounts of time (45 minutes). The president of the University of Connecticut, for example, offers 30-minute appointments for students.
I wonder how might the Stony Brook community benefit if President Stanley held office hours. Perhaps, the community might see positives in the areas of developments on accreditation, funding sources and balanced faculty-student ratios to list a few. In tumultuous times like these, we need a united campus with less barriers between us and our college administration. The worst thing a college administration can do is limit avenues of communication.