EDITORIAL: Cabrini needs to focus on prestige, not money

By defaultuser
February 27, 2003

Talking to President Iadarola about the vision for Cabrini’s future, it is clear that the goal is to increase the academic reputation.

What has she done to achieve that? The freshmen academic learning communities are one example of a step in the right direction. The hiring of a number of young Ph.D.s on the faculty is another. The increase in the size of the honors program is a third. If Cabrini is to become a university, more masters degrees need to be offered.

But a college can have the best of everything, including acclaimed professors and a bottomless endowment, and still not carry weight as a prestigious institution. Ultimately, it is the academic caliber of the student population that matters. So, with academic prestige in the sights, why does Cabrini continue to accept students who do not seem ready for college?

A new committee on Cabrini’s campus is proof that the student population is collectively sub par for a college growing towards prestige. Links for Intra-institutional Collaboration was developed by Dr. Richard Neville, acting vice president for student development, Gary Johnson, dean of enrollment Services, and Dr. Catharine O’Connell, dean of academic affairs, to provide “strategies for minimizing problematic student behavior in the classroom.”

Should a prestigious college really have to figure out how to deal with disruptive classroom behavior? Isn’t that a high school issue? It is outrageous that the classroom etiquette of Cabrini students has reached a level that warrants not only its own committee, but for syllabuses to include a note warning students about verbal and physical abuse of professors.

Of course it is not the majority of Cabrini students taking part in the abuse. Like campus vandalism, it is the actions of the few and the unwelcome that cause trouble.

We wonder if the disruptive behavior isn’t the result of the admissions standards set by the rolling admissions method, which allows students to be accepted until August, therefore potentially inviting the wrong type of student to Cabrini.

With rolling admissions, doesn’t Cabrini become a fall-back school, instead of an elite institution? Rather than sticking strictly to honors-level recruiting, Cabrini becomes the fall-back school for students or the last-minute school for students who wake up in August and say, “I’d better go to college.”

This scenario does not always end with Cabrini accepting students from the bottom of the gene pool though. Students who do not get accepted to other local prestigious schools use Cabrini’s rolling admission system to continue their education, and Cabrini ends up with brilliant students.

But for Cabrini to become a top notch school in the Philadelphia area, the administration needs to set aside its money-hungry policies. Instead of accepting low-level students in late July and August, admissions should stick strictly to the goal – prestige – and remember that the students make the college.

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