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‘What’s going to happen now?’: Campus reacts to the retirement of university president

Photograph: Sarah Cavender / The Guardian

Dylan Collison, Jamie Penwell, and Makenzie Hoeferlin also contributed to this story

After the campus-wide announcement that Wright State President Dr. Cheryl Schrader will be stepping down effective Dec. 31, members of Wright State University’s community shared their thoughts on the news.

“My first reaction is ‘that was quick,’ considering the fallout that happened a few years ago with the other president. She [Schrader] was supposed to come in and make things better but with the strike last semester, I suppose that it was, I’m not going to say inevitable but she obviously did not show, I guess, enough initiative, I suppose, trying to settle things,” said Jordan Smith, junior. 

Some students reflected on the quick turn over.

“I feel like everybody’s abandoning ship,” said Sariah Schneider, sophomore. “Honestly, it feels kind of sudden, I guess, and I don’t know what’s going to happen after this. I feel like it might affect students negatively, as far as our impression of the university, it might also affect students who are coming to the university seeing that our president’s leaving. It’s probably going to just affect the university overall, negatively.”

Destiny Ellars, sophomore, agreed, “I am concerned for the university because of the [negative] attention Wright State has received in the past year.”

[ RELATED: President Cheryl Schrader and VP of Finance will be stepping down ]

“I feel like it’s sad that she only lasted two years,” said Brianna Russ, senior. “I didn’t agree with most of the stuff that she did, but now we have to look all over again, which is just something I don’t think we’re ready to do.”

Russ commented on the condition of the past few years of the institution.

“I feel like it’s going to be another time for students to feel like we’ve been abandoned by the administration, so that’ll be hard for us to deal with again, but it’s been a tumultuous two years,” Brianna Russ.

While many students feel negatively towards the change, some students are sympathetic to the decision. 

“She kind of just got handed a steaming pile of crap when she took over, like the past president is the one that really screwed things up. He’s the one that did it all. He just went ‘here you go, I’m out!’” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous.

“It’s not really like any of this is her fault, I can say that. The reaction is ‘what’s going to happen now?’ That’s my reaction, ‘what’s happening after this? Who’s taking over?’” said another student who wishes to remain anonymous.

While some students have strong opinions, others do not have any opinion at all.

Many students were unaware of who the university president is or that the campus-wide email from the president’s desk had been sent out.

Interviews with some students had no opinion on President Schrader or her decision to step down. 

“To be honest, I didn’t even know who the president was. Sorry, I don’t have an opinion,” said Sam Stewart, sophomore.

Dr. Emanul Choudhury, Urban Affairs and Geography professor, provided more insight into the opinions of the community.

“Wright State was going through fiscal difficulties and she [Schrader] was brought in to put those in order. I, personally, don’t agree with many of her approaches to that but the house is in order, fiscally, and we are in surplus budget-wise. Therefore, now it is a different situation and we need a different mindset and skillset in our leader,” said Choudhury.

Choudhury related the turnover in Wright State administration to corporate leadership.

“CEOs in major corporations regularly come in and out. That’s what we should be doing,” Choudhury said. “This is good news for her if it fulfills her goals in life and it fulfills our institutional goal, so it’s a win-win situation, that’s what I think.”

According to Choudhury, the next leader of Wright State should have focus on student needs and faculty confidence.

“Faculty confidence and the future of the students and their needs, learning needs, and whoever can understand that and create a marriage between these two should be our leader,” Choudhury said.