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Q&A with Chancellor Reaves

By Jaye Cole
On March 22, 2011

The spring 2011 semester has brought many changes to the campus of Winston-Salem State. These including the return of Rams baseball, a budget crisis, a newly appointed vice chancellor, as well as the groundbreaking of the new Student Activities Center. The News Argus interviewed Chancellor Donald Reaves Feb. 24 and discussed campus current events and some topics from Ramble Online.  

News Argus: The sports teams have made a tremendous turnaround from last year. How does the Athletic Department's accomplishments make you feel.

Chancellor Reaves: Obviously it makes me feel really great. I've been telling every one that I've talked to ‘what a difference a year makes.' The decision to remain in Division II, I'm convinced as much as I was a year ago, is where we belong. The fact of the matter is, we are a Division II school.

News Argus: A lot of people were supportive of coach Maynor's pay raise and new contract but there were also some who were skeptical. How soon can WSSU  expect to see dividends?

Chancellor Reaves: I think we've seen some of it already, but after the raise I think the expectations soared. When we stepped back into Division II we decided that we were going to run a competitive program. It's important to have the right people on your staff, especially when it comes to football. We felt that Connell [Maynor] was a good fit.

News Argus: How will the changes to general education affect incoming students?

Chancellor Reaves: We're in the midst of curriculum reform.  Curriculum reform involves taking a look at the way in which we educate students at WSSU. There hasn't been a comprehensive update to the  general education requirements in more than 50 years. We've seen this approach work at other institutions; we want to expose our students to as much information of the world as we can by using liberal learning.

News Argus: Concerning enrollment, it appears as if it's continuing to get lower. What is the target number of students the University can expect to enroll?

Chancellor Reaves: It's not going to be lower than it is right now; we want to keep the number between 6,300 and 6,500 students, and that's exactly where we are right now. We're bringing in a mixture of freshmen and transfer students that will maintain this number. In conjunction with taking a smaller class, it allows us to be more selective with whom we take: fewer students, but better prepared academically.

News Argus: How effective was the housing lottery and will there be any changes to the system?

Chancellor Reaves: There's going to be some changes. We're thinking about them right now. I think it was very effective because it opened up housing on the campus to a broader swath of the population. We have students who may not have the greatest GPA but would benefit from living on campus. Literature has shown students living on campus tend to be more successful than those who live off campus. We're just starting to talk about changing the housing system in such a way that more second-year students are guaranteed housing on campus.

News Argus: With the housing lottery being effective as it is and given your push to keep more students on campus, is there a plan of attack for the empty dorms?

Chancellor Reaves: Yes. But we understand that price is an issue, and the condition of some of the dorms have contributed to empty beds, so we know that we have to make some investments there and improve the quality of life for the students.

New Argus: Despite the budget cuts, WSSU has managed to hire two assistant provosts. Was this something already in the works?

Chancellor Reaves: Whenever you ask anyone on a college campus how to cut the budget, the answer is always the same: Get rid of administrators. We have cut the administrative side of this University for the past three years; we can't cut anymore. There have been some recent hires; however these are replacements and not additions. The only addition that we've had is the Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs Denise Pearson, which was a wonderful hire. She will help the provost better manage faculty affairs. I want to add that out of the three groups — students, faculty and staff — students will be the least affected by the budget cuts.


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