When I asked the SU's elected officials what separates them from SUs previous, I received a number of very similar responses. Some--most in fact--focused on the "tuition fight."
When critically examining Matt Stambaugh's job as president, this example presents a number of problems. Most important, is the lack of tuition-related initiatives, a major campaign issue for Stambaugh.
A brief look at his first trimester report and his weekly SLC reports, demonstrates substantial thought about tuition. Almost weekly, he mentioned the need for action. On a number of occasions, he has compared the SU to other years, pointing out where they erred. Unfortunately, the SU's lack of action in the past is being replicated, with only slight improvements. The Academic Carnival was a success (the VP academic's accomplishment), but it wasn't abouttuition. Also, the SU is passing around differential tuition flyers and visiting classrooms--good first steps.
Fortunately, Stambaugh recognizes the need for student involvement. In his trimester report, he wrote that any changes will "come through a strong showing of student support for lower tuition." Unfortunately, Stambaugh and his council haven't lived up to this with any action. Town hall meetings were promised but never held. Events were proposed but remain to be seen. The tuition decision may be months away, but last year's SU did nothing until immediately before the decision and failed miserably. Is this year's SU heading down this road, too?
Another major deficit, which will invariably cause tuition efforts to fail, is the lack of any real alternative to raising tuition. Last year's SU pointed to parking. Although horribly executed, at least it was something. During his acclamation last year, Stambaugh discussed a new tuition system he would propose to the university. Eight months later, this idea has disappeared. Stambaugh, from time to time, comes up with great ideas, but seems to lack significant execution and follow-through.
Perhaps the main fault of Mr. Stambaugh's presidency, however, is his leadership abilities, or lack thereof. While he may be faced with elected officials who contribute more to the SU's inefficiency than he does, he fails in showing initiative and making the SU function as a team. Instead, Stambaugh becomes involved in the petty squabbling in meetings and bickers back. Recently, a bikcering session ballooned until a commisioner was removed from the meating, as guests of SLC sat and watched. Come the new year, Stambaugh has to pull his council together if he hopes to achieve anything.
The Den became a big issue in September, with the university pressing hard for changes. While it is difficult to perform in such a reactive situation, it was a lack of proactive initiatives (save for an ineffective $2 cover charge) that let the Den's problems reach the point they did.
But let's not forget the good Stambaugh does. He puts in mammoth hours in committees and really does care about students. Stambaugh also handles the media, well, acting far more professional than any other exec. And, truth be told, some of his shortcomings may be the result of those surrounding him as much as his own doing (read on).
Stambaugh is a better president than his two predecessors, and a decent president in his own right. However, he seldom exceeds the minimum requirements of the presidential portfolio and his performance leaves much to be desired--hopefully, we will see these desires realized in the new year.