President Madeleine Wing Adler began her final semester at West Chester University on Jan. 14 and sat down for an exclusive interview with The Quad.At the conclusion of the 2007 Spring semester, Adler announced her decision to retire in front of a group of students at the recently opened SOMPAC building, after her 16th year at WCU.
Adler currently sits as the most senior president in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
“I’ve been here 16 years,” Adler said. “It is nice to leave on your own terms.”
Adler remarked to a former friend and president of Clarion University telling her “You will know [when it is time].”
Adler is fully confident in the people and leaders West Chester University will retain.
“This university has embraced distributed leadership,” Adler said. “That frees up the president [to do more creative things].”
At the onset of Adler’s presidency, WCU received 65 percent of its budget from the state. That number has dropped to about 35 percent.
That is one of the reasons West Chester has changed from, according to Adler, a “backyard institution” to a rich college on a special campus.
Adler’s ultimate goal was to “provide the very best education to our students.” West Chester has thrived in the same general geography and with similar enrollment numbers.
WCU’s increase in undergraduate quality has helped to lead to growth in graduate enrollment and new opportunities.
Over recent years, Adler has stressed a continued emphasis on Public Safety.
“Universities are not the safe havens they were years ago,” Adler said. “Public Safety is what it is, public safety” stating the ever changing need for protection on campus.
Last semester, West Chester’s Public Safety department brought in Piper, a K-9 unit specializing in narcotic detection.
West Chester also made plans in case of an emergency, natural or social, to plan street closures through the many municipalities West Chester borders.
“I don’t think [Public Safety] changed,” Adler said. “They just became better prepared.”
Adler, also in her tenure, overlooked the opening of the School of Music and Performing Arts Center (SOMPAC).
Adler recalled her college dreams of attaining a degree in vocal performance, and took lessons from WCU faculty in order to perform a jazz set for her husband’s birthday. For weeks, Adler was a WCU student.
“It was a hoot to be a student and seek the quality of instruction we provide,” Adler said. “Our goal is to become the cultural center of the region.”
West Chester recently also climbed to achieve the fastest growing art program, not including Schools of Art.
SOMPAC is however not the only building changed in Adler’s tenure. Each academic building other than the Old Library has been renovated.
“We are more than the sum of our parts,” Adler remarked. “It’s not the buildings, it’s who goes in the buildings.”
One of the final acts under Adler is to upgrade residential hall living on West Chester’s campus. The construction on the first two began at the beginning of January and six residence halls total are scheduled before 2015.
“It’s been a great ride,” Adler recalled. “[I’ll miss] the constant interaction with students and the constant access to culture.”
However, Adler claimed that she is ready to pass the torch and hopefully will be remembered as “someone who empowered everyone on campus to seek and achieve excellence.”
Frank Stern is a West Chester student majoring in English with minor journalism. He can be reached at FS628548@wcupa.edu.