By Shayna Han
By Shayna Han
On Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30, at the Nott Memorial, the Union College President’s Council held their fourth annual meeting to discuss and brainstorm ideas for Union’s future.
Frank L. Messa ‘73, explained the council’s objectives: re-engage alumni with Union, financially support Union, and advise the President on college matters.
The council’s origins are in a trustee board of advisors. Messa spearheaded the campaign to create the council, and in 2009, Vice President of College Relations Steve Dare and Director of College Initiatives Debra Geer worked to bring the council to life. The council usually meets once or twice a year, and during the meetings members are given an overview of the college.
Messa talked about the energy and productivity of the talks and the merits and capabilities of the people involved on the council. Geer, who coordinates the President’s Council, calls the council an “external perspective” for President Stephen Ainlay and other senior administrators of Union. Ainlay, according to Geer, calls the council a “conversation partner.”
One topic of great importance for this year’s council was Union’s acquisition of the Adirondack Center, a two-acre piece of land surrounded by the H. G. Reist Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Center includes the house of Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer, and a 15,000 volume collection that includes rare books, certain conservationists’ papers, maps, photos and other informational resources. This is the most extensive collection on the Adirondacks outside of the Adirondack Park itself.
The council also discussed the admissions statistics and academic success of Union. Messa believes the unity of liberal arts and engineering are Union’s “great skills for success.” He discussed Union’s performance as an institution in the academic world in what he termed “input” and “output.” By input, Messa referred to college ranking lists, which are primarily compiled based on SAT/ACT scores and percentages of incoming freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class. By output, Messa talked about where Union students go after commencement and their outstanding achievements.
“We turn out leaders,” Messa said, “[because students] learn how to think critically and communicate.” Indeed, many return to Union to give back to the community that taught them so much.
Many members of the council are Union alumni, proving Geer’s point that “Union ties don’t end on graduation day.”