The high cost of a college education, worried parents, faculty family issues, dealing with the rise of Hindi and Muslim students in a Catholic university.
Being a university president isn't what you'd call a dull job, by any means.
St. Bonaventure President Sister Margaret Carney was the guest speaker during Friday morning's Eggs and Issues series at the Conewango Club.
St. Bonaventure recently opened a dual-enrollment program for Warren County School District juniors and seniors which will allow participating students to graduate high school just a few credits shy of being an official college junior.
Carney spoke about the complexity of leading a private university during the country's current economic struggles, along with dealing with a myriad of issues that can pop up at a moment's notice.
"This is an example of what I've had to deal with over the last 48 hours," Carney said. "I got a phone call about a student whose transcripts won't be released until she pays $567.97 in parking tickets her mother didn't know she owed. I was notified that the state (of New York) just slashed funding for scholarships for inner city African Americans. A beloved professor came to me to discuss retiring. During the conversation, it became apparent that his wife is showing early signs of dementia. The student newspaper wanted to know my opinion on gay marriage. This was a no-win conversation. A cousin called, looking for tickets for the big game, and wanted to know if I knew of any good places to eat. In this job, one moment it's exhilaration; the next moment the sky is falling."
Carney said she is often asked about the high cost of obtaining a college education at a private university such as St. Bonaventure. She explained that universities have a high rate of fixed costs, such as tenured instructors. Enrollment rises and falls constantly due to various factors, plus there is always an uncertainty what sort of aid the state will provide.
"There is a political conviction that we should be able to do this so much more cheaply," Carney said. She pointed out that developing students' minds in a university setting isn't comparable to turning out "widgets" in a factory.
Carney expressed concern over state legislators in New York mulling the concept of allowing non-profit entities to be able to award masters degrees to students. "We are worried about not having competent teachers in the classroom, but we are going to put aspiring teachers in a classroom where their teachers aren't accredited."