Fox’s Four-Year Stay a Medley of Wins and Losses

    Online Transcript: Fox Speaks Out

    Acknowledging the limits of an occupation’s lifespan might be defeatist to the rank-and-file, but Chancellor Marye Anne Fox nods to a valid point: “[University] chancellors usually serve five-year terms at the most,” she told the editorial board at an annual lunch meeting.

    And just as one’s mid-life conjures up open retrospection (what have I accomplished?), the campus should visit Fox’s own mid-life achievements at UCSD since her arrival in 2004. Fox’s first luncheon with the Guardian back then was textbook in goal and execution: the hob-knobbing and gladhanding yielded stock goals, lofty in aim but ultimately weak in realism. Initially, among her largest aims was the establishment of a lively campus community and identity.

    Her administration’s most utilized tool in that effort was the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction report. The report’s methodology was pleasantly ground-level, allowing scores of student interviewees to offer concerns and suggestions about their own campus in a more direct fashion. Finally, the student’s voice had been consolidated and formalized. Under the umbrella of the student affairs department, the survey bred a litany of subcommittees to analyze and act on students’ concerns.

    Fox’s approach to the U.S.E.S. — self-evaluation to instigate change — has, at the very least, yielded concrete results. Specific lines in the U.S.E.S. have spurred specific changes. Establishments under heavy student use, such as Geisel Library and Subway, are now open late into the night. Core centers of student life, such as Price Center and Student Center, are undergoing either reconstruction or expansion.

    Also, the vein of a college’s student life pumps through its housing, an understanding Fox was well aware of in 2004. The furthur development of on-campus housing would extend a student’s on-campus experience, thus strengthening their connection to their college, Fox rightly reasoned. Recently, housing for graduate students was completed to much fanfare, just as housing for transfer students has broken ground. The two facilities answer Fox’s call to community in a hopeful fashion, with underrecognized populations of students, such as transfers, getting the dividends of Fox’s vision.

    But improvements are still sorely lacking in the undergraduate sphere. Fox is suprisingly obtuse regarding heavier, student-centric issues. Her response to the recent scandal within the Dimensions of Culture program was underwhelming and broad, much like her response to Student-Run Television’s shutdown. Both issues received national press attention. Both issues made splashes in student life, the kind that aid in the formation of identity. Fox’s step-back technique to hot-button issues buys her breathing room, but costs her also: An undefinable leader can’t produce the inspiration needed for a philosophical sea change. And as Fox herself acknowledged, UCSD’s student life needs a change-by-movement. Service-level impacts have been instigated through drives such as U.S.E.S., though Fox’s self-admittedly short shelf-life conjures another mid-life question: What can I still accomplish? With weighty problems such as parking and undergraduate housing still looming, the prospects of Fox fully achieving her vision are gloomier than the accomplishments she has already made.

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