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Top College Officials Speak in Tuesday Town Hall

Patrick Healy, Managing Editor

A town hall meeting between President Steve Stoute, vice presidents and faculty and staff took place on Tuesday at Montante Cultural Center. Shepherded by the newly appointed Chief of Staff Cece Gotham, the top Canisius officials took turns updating the academic and administrative audience on their various departments and discussing the direction of the college.


Vice President for Business and Finance Tim Balkin began by reporting that the long-awaited surface parking lot next to Science Hall is complete, and that Catholic Health is moving out of Science Hall, which means another hundred parking spaces for Canisius.


Preempting obvious questions about the status of the damaged Lyons Hall, Balkan said “the future of Lyons Hall will be tied to the strategic planning committee. There isn’t anything more I can tell you.”


Moving to the future, the third-year business and finance chief said “the major capital investment this summer is replacing Demske Field, which is at the end of its useful life” after 15 years. “It will be ready by early August and will be usable for another 12 to 15 years.”


Next, Vice President for Enrollment Management Danielle Ianni took the stage to report that, as of Tuesday, Admissions was 63% toward its goal for fall 2023 enrollments and that a record 43 admitted students put down their deposit in the most recent Accepted Students Day. As for graduate admissions, Ianni is “feeling optimistic: [we are] right where we need to be.” Based on a “significant increase” in international applications, graduate applications are up 22% and registrations are up 42%.


Ianni then moved to the results of the past year’s branding survey. She revealed that the plurality of respondents were alumni, and that there is a divide in the market between what alumni and prospective students value.


All groups agreed, however, that job outcomes were the most important measure. Ianni asked the audience to report how their programs contributed to better professional outcomes for students. The survey also found that Canisius’s location in Buffalo is a positive draw for most groups. She encouraged the audience, “We need to lean into the city and be proud of it.”


President Steve Stoute, whose remarks concluded the pre-question portion of the town hall, echoed Ianni in saying, “We must lean into what it means to be the Catholic, Jesuit, urban institution in Western New York.” The first-year president noted, “We can change many things, but we’re not moving.”


One of the branding points on the table — and one of the most prominent phrases used to promote the college — is “Where Leaders are Made,” which is displayed on the entrance to Lyons Hall and the Village Townhouses.


The survey group revealed that “Where Leaders are Made” is a popular phrase, especially among alumni. Ianni said that the college needs to modernize its meaning, because for prospective students, leadership is “not an executive suite, but within clubs and the classroom.” Stoute doubled down on “Where Leaders are Made,” saying it would remain a key aspect of the college’s marketing. The president challenged the assembled faculty and staff to think further about it, given that “everyone talks about leadership, [but] what is different about how we form leaders?”


Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Thomas Chambers asked what the role of a modern liberal arts education is in our society, to which Dr. Sara Morris, vice president for academic affairs, jumped up to say that “employers want critical thinking.” She concluded that people who can be “clear, crisp and concise in oral and written communication understand what information you can trust, integrate information from other places and learn new things.”


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