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President Cornwell and Dean Holmes host chat

Students and members of the administration discuss tuition, prestige and diversity

Wyatt Smith

Features Editor

Over 30 students gathered in the Lowry pit this past Monday for an open-ended Q&A with President Grant Cornwell and Dean of Students Kurt Holmes. During the hour-long “fireside chat,” the two administrators fielded a variety of questions on topics ranging from diversity on campus to the president’s salary.

During his opening remarks, the president stressed the importance of the holistic liberal arts college experience, as opposed to online classes or commuter campuses.

Several students voiced concerns over rising tuition rates.

“Will [tuition] go up every year you’re here? Probably yes,” responded Cornwell. He cited student services (such as career planning and experiential learning) and keeping salaries competitive for Wooster’s underpaid faculty as the main causes of recent tuition hikes.

The president added that he accepts ultimate responsibility for the cost of attending Wooster, but also highlighted how the College offers more financial aid than its “peer institutions” (a group that includes Kenyon, Oberlin, and Denison).

When asked about administrative efforts concerning diversity, Cornwell held that he was proud of the progress Wooster has made in increasing student diversity, but wasn’t pleased with the community’s limited acceptance of that diversity. He was unhappy with the lack of progress in the College’s attitude surrounding diversity, saying that there is “all the work in the world to do.”

Cornwell was also asked about his thoughts on Wooster’s rising prestige and selectivity. The president confirmed that the College’s admission rate, which has been getting more and more selective over the past five years, is on track to decrease again this year. However, he emphasized that prestige is “not a driver for us.”

“Our strategy is not to be higher ranked,” he said, “it’s to make the [Wooster] experience as enriching as possible.”

Peg Cornwell, Associate to the President for Community, Trustee, and Parent Relations, was also in attendance, but did not join in the conversation.

Cornwell also expressed that he hoped such fireside chats would become a regular occurrence.

 

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