Western Michigan University President Edward Montgomery says getting students in the door isn’t enough if they don’t eventually walk out with a diploma. He says when people feel they are part of a community, they’re more likely to succeed even after things go wrong.
Montgomery sat down with WMUK’s Gordon Evans and Kalamazoo Gazette Reporter Kayla Miller on Tuesday. They discussed a wide range of topics, including the university’s efforts to retain students and increase graduation rates. Montgomery says he wants students to be part of a community on campus. He thinks that will help them get through difficult times.
“We see it with our athletes, we see it with our Seita Scholars (students who have aged out of foster care), we see it in other programs where students who are part of a network, part of a learning community stick with it.”
Montgomery says finding communities of people who have similar passions and interests can help build that support. He says that mentors can help guide them to those interests or passions.
On other topics:
Sexual Assault Training
New training at Western and a new campus climate survey were both planned before the scandal at Michigan State University, according to Montgomery. He says it’s important to make sure employees are aware of their obligations and students are aware of available resources. Montgomery says the university has received positive feedback from state lawmakers and others. But he says it’s important to continue working on the issue of sexual assault and reporting procedures.
A planned Esports arena will go into the Little Theater on Western’s East Campus. It was proposed when Montgomery sought ideas from faculty and staff last year. Montgomery says he was skeptical at first. But he says playing and watching others play video games is popular with the demographic that mostly makes up college students. Montgomery says it’s a growing industry, and an academic connection can be built. He says making the games includes electrical engineering, computer science, as well as story telling, which can rely on psychology and history.
Montgomery says it’s important to seek out private money by making the case that WMU is a valuable place for donors to invest. He says that includes getting the word out to potential donors. Montgomery says it’s important to focus on needs on campus while also finding the passion of potential donors.
Part of attracting people to the university is a welcoming campus, according to Montgomery. He says it’s important to convey the right visual image to the community. Montgomery says he would love to see campus and downtown Kalamazoo as seamless. He says making that area more pedestrian friendly, would help.