by Zoe Montague | Co-Editor-in-Chief
A mysterious petition titled “Blue Hose: Delay the Vote” made the rounds in Facebook in late October while signs encouraging students to “Save the Football Team” were suddenly found on the back of every residence hall entrance. Students were left wondering what the sudden hullabaloo was about, questioning what types of changes were unfolding behind the scenes.
The Communications Department raised more eyebrows when they sent out an email with a letter by President Staton confirming the fact that a comprehensive strategic plan was receiving the finishing touches and would be unveiled very shortly.
According to Staton’s letter, the strategic plan was “generated from within, researched and developed by Blue Hose people—people who are dedicated to PC’s short- and long-term success, including administrators, Board members, faculty, and alumni. It is built on our legacy and strengths, takes into account our market environment, and provides a roadmap to ensure that we continue to honor our heritage in a way that empowers successful lives and careers for our students today and tomorrow.”
On Nov. 20, the President held an address to the campus faculty and staff during which he unveiled the new plan entitled “The Promise of PC.” The speech, which can be found on the PC website, described a plan to enhance the academic and co-curricular experiences for students, to create initiatives to ensure student success, to invest in infrastructure, and to more effectively market the school. This is the first strategic plan for the school since 1999.
There have been mixed reactions in the few weeks since this announcement. Notably, many alumni have expressed anger and confusion about the plan, especially with regard to the decision to transition the football team to the non-scholarship Pioneer Conference in 2021.
A Facebook group called “On, On PC!” has been perhaps the most vocal about their disappointment. The group, according to its ”About” page, is “for alumni and friends of Presbyterian College to communicate and collaborate to save PC’s scholarship football program and the PC that we loved and don’t want to see die.”
Alumnus Bo Johnson, class of ‘80, posted, “I once knew that I was an active stakeholder in my Alma Mater. Now, I know that I am only an interested bystander.” He stressed that his (and others) frustration comes from a place of deep love for the school.
One alumnus, Eric Poulin, has even filed a civil suit against the college for misrepresenting their interests while continuing to accept his donation money.
On campus, however, there seems to be an attitude of approval. Students seem excited to know that PC is looking out for their academic interests and planning for the future. “I am excited that PC is growing academically and physically. I think that the renovations and building expansions will offer much value to PC students, faculty, and staff. I am also excited for the new majors and possible graduate schools that will be offered,” sophomore Corinne Gillion said.
She stated apprehension about the football decision and how it would affect the team’s competitiveness. “However, I am sure there has been much thought and time put into this decision, so I will support the school’s decision,” Gillion concluded.
Junior Justin Davidson holds the same hopes and fears. “I think that some of the initiatives with the goal of adding additional programs to bolster the health science program will work to differentiate us in the college marketplace. If we add these programs and are able to maintain a similar tuition cost, the plan overall will be able to increase enrollment and make us more competitive with other schools in the state and in the Southeastern region.”
His concern with the future move to the Pioneer League is in terms of campus diversity. “I hope that as part of the new plan and with the creation of the new Diversity Council headed by Dr. Ingram, PC will strive for maintaining and increasing diversity, as some will be lost by the move for football.”
The President has held a few question-and-answer sessions for faculty and staff and plans to hold more for students in the upcoming semester. More information about “The Promise of PC” can be found at www.presby.edu/promise.