Chancellor delivers State of the University address
“I will assert that we’re working with the most talented group of undergraduates anywhere,” Chancellor Mark Wrighton said to a crowd of more than 100 students filling Laboratory Sciences room 300 Tuesday night.
His “State of the University” address, followed by a brief question and answer session where he fielded questions from the audience, was delivered during a special meeting of the Student Union Senate.
While most of his speech reviewed the history of Washington University from 1853 through today, detailing the development of its many divisions and schools, Chancellor Wrighton also concentrated on the University’s plans for continued improvement.
The chancellor noted that careful planning had enabled the institution to grow successfully in the past, and shared an overview of how that approach will continue to be used as the University looks toward further development.
“The board of trustees embraced an overarching goal, and that goal is to enhance our leadership today to benefit America and the world tomorrow,” the chancellor said.
That overarching goal, he said, is composed of four major themes, or “pillars,” that will guide the University’s continued evolution: readying students to become leaders, advancing human health, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and contributing to the University as an academic establishment and a community.
Wrighton challenged students to realize their role in building the University in those four areas. He emphasized that opportunities for advancement of each pillar are open to all students, regardless of field of study, and praised Washington University’s diversely talented student body as the source of unique opportunities for moving forward.
Among these opportunities, the Chancellor highlighted the public health program, which has gone through tremendous growth in just the past few years. Beyond the recently accredited Master of Public Health, the School of Arts & Sciences offers a public health minor, and the Olin Business School offers a major in healthcare management.
Beyond the overarching goal of continuing to build the University as an institution, Wrighton also discussed issues ranging from the University’s brand to student safety during the question-and-answer session following his address.
Senators and other students in attendance asked the chancellor questions relating to his address and to perceived omissions in the information he shared.
Senator Leigha Empson, a junior, asked whether the University was planning to address gender disparity in faculty hiring and salaries.
The chancellor responded that the University is definitely aware of the problem and hopes to make strides toward solving it.
“With the hiring rates that we see on this campus, we should approach gender equality in terms of the faculty. But it will take time,” Wrighton responded.
In light of the recent armed robbery incident in the Snow Way Garage last Tuesday, the chancellor also fielded a question about campus crime.
“It’s a very frustrating situation to live in the world that we do, as great as things are, and having to worry about whether you’ll go to your car in a parking garage and be accosted, robbed or hurt. It’s very frustrating. We need to be mindful as individuals that not everybody is as nice as you are and know that crime exists,” the chancellor said. “We are beefing up our security forces.”