President Snyder responds to student concerns, addresses growing class sizes

Mark Patteson, Staff Reporter

President Barbara Snyder attended Tuesday’s Undergraduate Student Government meeting as guest speaker and answered questions from undergraduates as part of a push by USG to bridge the gap between students and administrators. Both the questions and Snyder focused on plans for the continued improvement of the university’s reputation and campus.
Snyder outlined her hopes for the university through the rest of the decade, following her contract renewal through 2021. She focused on improving the academic standing of the university, primarily through the positive impact of students after college. “It shows students are well prepared and brings employers in,” she said. “It feeds on itself.”

Snyder began by discussing the over 21,000 undergraduate class of 2018 applications, the largest and most diverse applicant pool ever, triple the usual amount since Snyder became president in 2007. She also celebrated the fact that, with the Tinkham Veale University Center opening in August, the incoming class will be the first to spend all four years with Case Western Reserve University’s first building specifically designed as a student center.

In addition to the Tinkham Veale Center, Snyder emphasized the many new building projects expected to improve the CWRU student experience. Workers recently broke ground on the Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center in the North Residential Village, increasing the university’s athletic resources and saving north side residents a trip to Veale. She also described the future performing arts center and expansion of the Think[box] out of its temporary space into its own seven story building.

Snyder also addressed students’ concerns about a housing shortage, which she explained largely resulted from the large sophomore class. Despite the unprecedented number of applications, the university plans to keep class sizes roughly the same, with about 1,250 students in the freshman class of 2018.

Case will also reclaim Taplin Hall from the Cleveland Institute of Art, along with plans to build new residence halls on north side and further develop the Triangle Apartments. “The most important thing isn’t to have new students, but to have a better experience,” Snyder said.

She also responded to concerns of a disconnect between students and professors. While some undergraduates complain that professors are not accessible, she explained that faculty widely noted that few students actually sought additional help outside of class. Snyder hoped that the “disconnect will get better with time and smaller class sizes,” especially when SAGES ensures a small seminar with faculty more involved in advising.

When asked about the future of online education, Snyder explained the university would continue to experiment through all-online and hybrid graduate level degrees and non-credit bearing massive online open courses.

Despite the growing enrollment in online classes, Snyder cautioned that only a small percentage of students actually completed the courses and that they offer no replacement for the full college experience in traditional education, saying, “I hope it will never replace undergraduate education.”