Front

As Pandemic Wanes, Where Does Curry Go Next? (Part Three)

By Jacob Force, Currier Times Correspondent//

Editor’s Note: This is the last story in a three-part series written by Currier Times reporter, Jacob Force, a senior Communication major, who chronicles one of the most challenging academic years in the history of Curry College.

Part One: Curry and Covid: A Tale of Survival

Part Two: Retrenchment Takes Hold But Questions Remain

Looking into what the future holds for small liberal arts colleges in the wake of the pandemic is a daunting task. However, after a tumultuous year on campus (and on Zoom), the school’s leadership is optimistic about the future. 

But even in the face of optimism, the next several years at Curry will include some hardship, especially for students majoring in programs that are being eliminated. It isn’t just a school making changes to its academic repertoire, but rather a community losing some of its most beloved and valued members and programs. 

Alan Revering said his schedule has been changed around such that he’ll be teaching just as many classes with half the amount of assign time, which is when professors design the curricula for their classes. Twice as much teaching and half as much time to prepare is just one of the realities that will come with the next several years at Curry. 

A large part of Curry’s future success will depend on how it manages the short-term future. For President Ken Quigley, there’s no shortage of confidence that the community will prevail. 

“I believe the future, if we work through the near-term future well, is bright,” Quigley said. “I think the college faces the same demographic, economic and programmatic challenges that all colleges face.”

Quigley believes the college will get a new burst of life once students set foot on campus in the fall.

“I’m optimistic,” Quigley said. “I very much believe that in the fall, we’ll be fully face-to-face.”

Although the college is unsure of which Covid guidelines will and will not still be in place, it’s a sign of optimism that Curry expects to return to the in-person experience we’ve missed so much during the pandemic.

Revering is also confident that the school will be able to handle difficult situations that arise in the near future. 

“We do still have a really solid endowment,” Revering said. “When we started this process it was around $100 million, it might be a little smaller now. It’s not huge, but it’s substantial, and it means that we have some resilience that some other colleges would not.”

There’s no doubt that a post-Covid world will continue to present difficult decisions, but Curry is also in a much better place financially than many schools of its size. What will remain a problem for all of small private schools is the declining enrollment that was addressed more closely in part one of this series. 

Quigley is inspired by the resolve of the Curry community. “It’ll come down to the ability and willingness of the college community to execute a plan that is sustainable for a small private college in New England,” Quigley said. “And my money’s on the college because we’ve done it before.”

What remains a mystery is the impact that losing programs like Women’s and Gender studies as well as Asian studies will have. Curry has always emphasized diversity and what it means to the campus. Losing such programs, although they were only minors and not majors, will certainly force the college to pursue additional methods for diversity and inclusion.  

This is an unfortunate element that Sarah Augusto also addressed to The Currier Times via email. She makes the valid point that we have seen increased bias incidents on campus, and that this should be a sign for the administration to emphasize diversity studies, rather than cut them.

“It’s a shame that these things are being cut at a time when our students increasingly need an understanding of diversity in their careers, and just to operate as capable citizens out in the world,” Augusto wrote. 

Like Augusto, Grant Burrier also voiced concern over the school eliminating programs that promote diversity and a better worldview. 

For Burrier, a return to campus isn’t in the cards, but he has a heartfelt message about the future that comes directly from who and what he always was to this school. He’s known for being someone who gave his all to the student experience. Grant didn’t have to DJ any of those campus events he presided over. He didn’t have to play in the intramural basketball league. But he did those things anyway. For us. For you. And saying goodbye to him feels like a punch in the gut to the Curry community. But Grant wants you to know this:

“Your education is more than just your major,” Burrier said. “Take the opportunities to expand your horizons. Always question things and learn things and tickle those curiosities. And understand that what makes us a holistic person is not what our major is but also our passions and our interests. Read poetry, paint, listen to music, travel, go to sports games. Do all these things that make life interesting and fun. It’s not just about a profession or a specialized occupation. Those pay bills but that doesn’t make you feel happy or fulfilled in the aggregate.”

“Take the opportunities to expand your horizons. Always question things and learn things and tickle your curiosities.

PROFESSOR GRANT BURRIER, POLITICS AND HISTORY

Whether you stay at Curry or not, Grant Burrier wants this to be his lasting impact on the Curry students. He wants us to have the privilege of learning from everyone around us and not just the professors in front of us. He’s always wanted this, even when that professor was him. He and all other departing professors were here for us, and they all hope they were able to make their classes as enriching as possible.

Curry’s president is fully aware of the challenges ahead and has no doubt in his mind that Curry has the people it needs to guide the school through these difficult times.

“I’m very optimistic about the future,” Quigley said. “I think that there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us. I think there’s a lot of hard decisions that will continue to be made day-in and day-out. But we’ve got a great mission, we’ve got some great people, and I believe that Curry has taken some very strong steps in partnership with the faculty, in partnership with the union and in partnership with the staff to position us to succeed going forward. I absolutely believe that. I don’t think it will be easy.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s