This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The last transfer fair

On Tuesday morning I stopped by the 230 S College to see the rubble pile of what last week had been a house.
The back story, it you do not know it, is that this property was bought by the Rex Blacker Trust in 2013. This trust was given funds by the late Rex Blacker to support Rensselaer Parks. In late 2016 the Blacker Trust gave this property, which has about a fifth of an acre of land, to the City of Rensselaer with restrictions. The house could not be sold or rented. There was some question if it could be sold and removed from the property, and I have not learned the answer to that question. In any case, it no longer matters. It is now part of the park.

My next stop was City Hall to see what was happening at the monthly meeting of the Alcohol Review Board, Usually these meetings are quick and uninteresting because they simply renew permits, but the legals in the paper said that there was a new permit request by Pizza Hut. The meeting did not take place because it lacked a quorum. The permit for Pizza Hut was to serve beer and would replace the permit that it currently has, which allows it to serve both beer and wine. There was one other person in attendance, from the Hideaway in Kersey. They want to switch to be smoke free and for some reason that requires them to go before the Alcohol Review Board. All the items from the March agenda will be on the agenda for the April 11 meeting.

Then it was time to visit the third and last transfer fair at SJC. I expected this one to have fewer schools and fewer students than the previous two, and my expectation was correct. There were 85 schools registered but about a dozen of them were no-shows. (Weather may have been a factor--it seemed that many of the no-shows were from the north.) Most of the schools were from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. A few schools came from substantial distances, such as Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Immaculata near Philadelphia, and Pine Manor near Boston.

I was interested in how much success the attendees were having in attracting SJC students. Big winners seemed to be Indiana Colleges. Marian had the most applicants of the schools I talked to, with the University of Indianapolis and Anderson College also having large applicant pools. Location matters--some students are looking at schools that are near their homes. Other students are going back to the schools that they applied to when they were leaving high school and choosing their second choice from that list. As I was leaving I talked to an SJC coach and asked him how his team was doing and he said that most of them had found places. Some had gotten better offers than they had at SJC. He said that coach-to-coach connections were important in helping many of the student athletes choose their next school.

It seems that most students have either made a choice or have narrowed their options to a few schools. Several schools in attendance thought there might be some students who are procrastinators and who will not make a choice until the last minute. Perhaps. One of the SJC admissions counselors said that some of the students were intimidated by the number of schools at the first fair and had walked out.

In contrast to the students, very few of the faculty and staff seem to know what they will be doing next year. They have resumes out and some are interviewing, but there are only a few names mentioned of those that have found positions for next year.

I saw several people who had ties to SJC, including two former students of mine. (I did not recognize them and only only vaguely remembered them.) One of them had read the 990 forms going back to 2001 and wondered how the Board could have not reacted to the deteriorating fiscal condition. Another person with a SJC connection noted that there was a fierce resistance to change at SJC and that resistance to change was a reason that some former staff and faculty had left. In talking to people about why the college reached the end of the line, I have heard a number of opinions about what the key failings were. It would be nice if someone with the proper competence could look at all the documents and interview the main players and come up with a report that explained exactly what happened and why, but I doubt if that report will ever be written.

Western Governors University was at this fair and I had a nice chat with their representative. They had not known about the previous fairs. I am not sure how many SJC students will consider them because they appeal more to older and nontraditional students, though they are finding an increasing audience among younger students. WGU-Indiana is the Indiana branch of WGU. If you live in Indiana, you get state aid for enrolling and your degree will say WGU-Indiana, but the curriculum and the classes are the same as the parent entity. An Indiana student in one of their on-line class will have classmates from the other states that are part of WGU. I mentioned the possibility of residential colleges letting students take some on-line courses in specialized areas that their college might not want to offer and she said that WGU was starting to be interested in collaborations, something that they have not done in the past.

SJC now has a web page for bus trips to other schools. Four schools are offering them. The provost of one, Eureka College in Illinois, was formerly a provost at SJC and that is probably the main reason that they have made an extra effort.

After leaving the fair I again stopped by 230 S College. The wreckage was mostly in a large dumpster.
On Tuesday night Rensselaer was getting bursts of lake effect snow. Because the winter has been mild, the Great Lakes are mostly ice free and with a north wind the air can pick up a lot of moisture from Lake Michigan. We may get an inch or two, which will be one of our heavier snowfalls of the winter.

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