Last week’s issue of Arthur saw the first announcement of the review process that Catharine Parr Traill College will be undergoing beginning Feb. 1, from President Leo Groarke.
The external reviewer Chris Tindale co-authored the book Good Reasoning Matters! with Groarke. Arthur spoke to Tindale regarding the review process.
“I think this should really trigger some serious reflection within the Trent community,” Tindale expressed.
He will be visiting Peterborough for three days from Feb. 1 to 3, to speak with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students, and will be conducting the review based on the four questions mentioned in Groarke’s announcement.
“I will be coming to Peterborough at least once, maybe further times depending on how many people now request an opportunity to meet me … I’d like to talk to the department heads [about how they] see their future at Traill as they continue,” said Tindale.
During his initial visit to Peterborough, Tindale is hoping to gather a lot of information from the groups he is meeting with.
“[M]ore than likely I will find that those three days are not sufficient and I will need to return, or engage with people in another way, say through social media, which might be sufficient,” he explained.
Tindale said it will take subsequent visits to talk to members of the larger Peterborough community, but not before he has enough input from the Trent community to move forward to the Peterborough community.
There has been worry and controversy regarding the review from many Trent community members. Despite this, there is potential for great things to come out of this review.
“I’m excited for the review, and that the president is taking interest in the future of the college,” said Michael Eamon, Principal of Traill College.
Eamon held a preliminary meeting at Traill last Monday to discuss the issues surrounding the review and any questions students or faculty may have had prior to the beginning of the review.
Eamon said there are some difficulties that the Traill community needs to face head-on, including college fee revenue, deferred maintenance, and reaching out to the graduate science community at Trent.
He encouraged members from other departments to think about how Traill could be strengthened. Some people present at the meeting mused about the creation of a unified Humanities program being beneficial for the College.
Eamon, along with many others believe that Traill has a clear connection to the downtown community, not just because of its location, but also because of the Trent Community Research Centre and Continuing Education programs.
Budget and the greater community outside of Trent will be two very hot topics of conversation during this review. Tindale wants to take a look at Traill’s budget including the distribution of funds.
“I would like to see what kinds of revenues Traill receives currently, what revenues they received in the past, whether Traill is getting its fair share from college funds, [and] how things are distributed among the other colleges as well.
“You can’t just look at Traill in isolation; you have to look at Traill in relation to the other colleges,” Tindale explained.
Undergraduates do, in fact, contribute a portion of the college funds to Traill as graduate college fees cover only approximately $9,000 of Traill’s annual costs.
This means that many large items such as salary, space charges (rent), and maintenance have to be covered from the ancillary fees collected from undergraduate students.
In response to the question Groarke raised about the budget in his article, Tindale and Eamon both talked about how alumni support could be very important to Traill’s future financial success.
“The key budget issues were elaborated upon [at the meeting]; but no concrete suggestions were made at that time; it was agreed that an endowment (possibly with alumni support) would be key to the College being more independent,” explained Eamon in his meeting summary.
“I would imagine if they’re Traill alumni, then Traill has played an important role in not just their education, but [also] a lot of their social life. I’d be very interested in how they see the success of Traill in the future,” Tindale said.
“If there are students who wanted to move to Traill and been prevented from doing that by the bureaucracy involved, those individuals should certainly make themselves known to me while I’m there,” Tindale encouraged.