Movers ’n’ shakers for 2009

As we move into 2009, Washington University—like institutions across the country—is faced with the challenge of dealing with the global economic crisis, remaining on the cutting edge in the face of constantly changing technology and continuing to provide the best possible education to its students. For the second year, we have attempted to compile a list of six administrators we expect to be influential in the year ahead. Though these are not the only people for whom we have high expectations, each of these people has the potential to exert considerable influence on the experience of students at the University.

Vice Chancellor for Administration Henry Webber
Just less than one full year into Webber’s tenure, the little-known administrator has already made a clear impact on campus by working together with Assistant Vice Chancellor Matt Malten and a team of committees to bring the University’s sustainability plans from theory into practice. As the University’s chief administrative officer, in the year ahead, Webber will be called upon to spearhead the administration’s adaptation to the tightening economy—a process which will require a frank assessment of where the University’s priorities lie. Although ensuring that research programs remain competitive should be a top priority, we hope to see Webber place continued emphasis on tangible steps toward addressing the climate crisis—most pressingly, reducing the University’s carbon footprint.

Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences Salvatore Sutera
Sutera faces the daunting task of revamping the image of the School of Engineering & Applied Science after frequent clashes between alumni, faculty and students during the tenure of former Dean Mary Sansalone. To keep the school among the most prestigious engineering programs in the country, Sutera must once again instill confidence in donors in the wake of these conflicts and the current economic crisis in order to fund the programs currently planned for the school. Since his appointment in April, Sutera has supervised the excision of the aerospace and civil engineering majors from the curriculum in an effort to focus on biotechnology, energy and materials engineering. With the engineering school at a pivotal crossroads right now, we hope that Sutera remains a valuable part of Washington University.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Students Justin Carroll
In his capacity as de facto leader of Washington University Residential Life, Carroll will play perhaps the most major role in Wash. U. students’ lives during the year.  As we approach the depths of the recession, ResLife will need to find a way to cut spending while keeping costs down, and preserve the right aspects of student living while keeping the student experience intact. The school’s administration will also be making key decisions regarding the construction on the South 40, which may depart significantly from the school’s original plan. It is largely the job of Carroll and his close colleagues within ResLife to preserve and work to improve the student experience in light of the variability of massive construction projects on the 40 and the economic status of its students.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management Art Ackermann

A name not nearly enough mentioned in the last few years is that of Art Ackermann. As the key construction contact internally at Washington University—and thus the crucial liaison between Clayco and the school at large—Ackermann bears the crucial responsibility of maintaining student welfare in the face of loud, large, disruptive construction projects around campus.  When will students who live in Rubelmann Hall learn about giant holes in front of their dorm before they are dug rather than after? When will the students as a whole have a chance to weigh in on how efficient and convenient the DUC construction process was for them? At the core, Ackermann is responsible this year for the quality of life of hundreds of students, especially on the South 40. Their daily lives rely heavily on Ackermann’s ability to communicate effectively between construction companies and Wash. U. students.

Future Dean of Arts & Sciences
Though Washington University has yet to name new a Dean for the School of Arts & Sciences, the person who fills this position will undeniably have a significant effect on a large portion of the student body. This year the Arts & Sciences undergraduate curriculum is up for review and will have the opportunity to face the challenges posed by critics of the cluster system. While some students have complained that the cluster system is too strict, others feel that Washington University should require its students to fulfill more distribution requirements. Additionally, many claim that it is unnecessarily difficult for individual students to propose a cluster and get it approved and that the process for professors to have their courses included in clusters also requires a significant amount of effort and paperwork. We expect the future Dean of Arts & Sciences to lay out the future curriculum plans of Arts & Sciences while responding to a variety of concerns over the cluster distribution system.

Dining Services Manager Nadeem Siddiqui

As the resident district manager of Washington University Dining Services, Siddiqui is the face of food improvement at the University. The successes and missteps of the new Danforth University Center eateries only raise expectations for future changes in the campus spread, and particularly for the upcoming Wohl Center’s dining options. Siddiqui has already presented ambitious initiatives to increase the sustainability of the food products served on campus, provide an online food ordering system for students, expand the hours for certain eateries and increase the variety of food options. Palpable stumbling blocks to these plans are increasing food prices on both ends of production and the pressing need to accommodate special dietary demands. In the arena of student stomachs, there is no such thing as universal success; Siddiqui, however, may yet manage to make useful improvements.

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