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Letter from President Rosenberg

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"The committee is not recommending that Macalester stop meeting the full need of all admitted students; in fact, it is recommending the opposite."

A Letter from President Rosenberg
on Macalester's Commitment to Quality and Access

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petitioned for the addition of a program in Middle Eastern Studies; parents and students have questioned the absence of more living space on campus and have protested against the loss of Nordic skiing as an intercollegiate sport; many have approached me to complain with some justice about our outdated facilities for students in art, theater, and music and for recreation and athletics; a variety of student groups have lobbied for the addition of an environmental director to our staff, and others have called for additional staff in Multicultural Affairs.

No one, by contrast, has approached me to lobby for the elimination or reduction of any current program or activity. Like financial aid, each of the things desired by the aforementioned groups may be described as a good, in the sense that it would contribute to the education of Macalester students and to the enhancement of the Macalester community. To place fiscal constraints on all academic and co-curricular activities and yet to hold to our current financial aid policies at all costs is to say, very directly, that there is no limit on the extent to which the quality of our programs will be sacrificed to our commitment to aid and that the good of access in any and all circumstances takes precedence over the good of academic excellence and even over the fiscal stability of the college. This seems to me inconsistent with our fundamental mission and a real threat to our reason for being. To ensure the viability of Macalester for years to come, the goals of access and quality must be brought into sensible and appropriate balance.

The individuals on the Board of Trustees, on the Resource Planning Committee and across campus who have taken on this complex question have done so out of a deep commitment to the mission and purpose of our great college. We owe it to them and to students present and future to respond with care and informed understanding to one of the great challenges confronting not only this institution, but American higher education as it attempts to balance quality and access in the 21st century. Already we have held informational meetings on this topic with faculty, staff, students and alumni, and we will be holding more. I hope and trust that you will follow and participate in these discussions as they unfold and that you will support this effort to secure the future of Macalester.

Brian Rosenberg
August 2004

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