|A look at the past: Watkins|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Tuesday, 10 July 2012 17:05|
EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial ran on Friday, July 15, 1977. Lloyd Watkins served as the 13th president of ISU from 1977–1988. A few of his biggest accomplishments included bringing the Special Olympics to Illinois State, expanding the Big Red Marching Machine and creating more student exchange centers. Watkins died at the age of 83 earlier this year on Thursday, March 1.
And, in the customary 100 day grace period, Watkins is going to have quite a few “issues” to grasp and be able to react to all of them without hesitation.
It is hard to put these issues in any order of importance, but probably at the top of the list is tenure. Toward the end of last semester, some questions were raised about the whole process of granting and denying tenure, and not all of those questions have been satisfactorily answered. He will have to be extra careful in this area, obviously, and it should provide his first real diplomatic test.
In the tenure area, Watkins will have to be dealing mostly with faculty and administration, but there is one area which could establish very quickly his relationship with the student body — how he handles the Rites of Spring issue. Rites has become a very popular political issue on campus, and once again Watkins’ diplomatic abilities are going to be severely tested.
His experience as a government relations specialist for education in Iowa will be put on the line when Watkins tries to tackle the Illinois General Assembly. For the past few years, higher education in Illinois has been falling on many legislators’ priority lists, and the potential exists for Watkins to improve the situation, not only with ISU, but with higher education throughout the state.
Teacher education is also at stake, with the recent recommendation by the Board of Higher Education to cut enrollments in this area. ISU has always been a leader in this field, and therefore ISU, with Watkins at the helm, should set the pace on how to tackle the problem and how to produce the correct number of high quality educators.
So it could be a quick honeymoon. The tests will come fast and hard, and Watkins will have a lot to prove to the ISU community. But then again, he probably won’t be taking anything on that he didn’t expect.
But in any case, welcome to ISU, President Watkins. We are looking forward to working closely with you to improve the educational community at ISU.