Welcome back for the spring semester. And a special welcome back to all our students who took advantage of the college’s Study Abroad program over the winter break. They went to Hawaii, Athens, Florence, London, Ecuador, Argentina, Israel, Japan, and Australia. Travel can add so much to your education. If you have not yet had a chance to visit other countries, I encourage you to look into Study Abroad’s summer offerings. You may even be eligible for a grant to help finance your studies overseas.
It is an exciting time for the college. I am delighted to say that during the winter break we received word that Queens College was ranked once again among our nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges and universities, according to The Princeton Review. What are their criteria for choosing us? Our academic excellence, our cost, and the generosity of our financial aid. We have always known that we are a fine school, but it is gratifying to hear that an objective source agrees with you.
Adding to our excitement is the building that is quickly rising on the western part of the campus: The Summit, our first residence hall. This has been the dream of several of my predecessors, and here it finally is, on schedule to open this August. Like traveling, living on a college campus is a terrific experience you should not miss. Not only is it great fun, but research indicates that students who live on campus have a higher retention rate than nonresidential students, have higher grade-point averages, and are 20 percent more likely to graduate. And did I mention that it is also a great deal of fun?
However, there are only 500 openings at The Summit, and many rooms have already been reserved. If you are interested in becoming part of Queens College’s first residential class, you should visit The Summit’s website, where you will find much helpful information and an application. You can also call or drop by our Office of Housing & Residence Life in the Dining Hall (718-997-4481).
And, of course, it is an exciting time on campus and throughout our nation because of the inspiring campaign and election of our first African American president, Barack Obama. If asked (and I have been asked) to name the most important things the new president can do for education, I would say:
Use the economic stimulus package to finance building projects on our nation’s campuses, which have been ignored for far too long. Besides improving the education we give our students, these projects would put millions of people to work.
Expand the Pell Grants program so that institutions as well as students receive funding. The amount of money students receive from Pell Grants should also be increased.
Take advantage of the great enthusiasm and idealism generated by the election and put into place a community service program that would offer students money for tuition if they do volunteer work for any of a number of worthwhile causes.
I wish you all the best in the coming semester and look forward to meeting and talking with you on campus.