Since part of our job as a newspaper is to play watchdog with the university administration and student government, we gave the leader of each a grade. SGA President Eric Beaty is ending his year while university President Wade Gilley is on a roll with hi
s plans for UT's bright future.
Here's how they fared for the year.
President Wade Gilley
With two years securely under his belt as university president, he's been a take-charge kind of guy so far. In fact, Gilley has taken charge of pretty much every aspect of the university.
From studies to evaluate the efficiency of programs to forming committees to improve parts of campus and campus life, Gilley has kept himself busy with new plans.
He began the year by defending the university's minority recruiting policies to the General Assembly and promising to improve. With minority goals still not met on this campus and in other parts of the university system, Gilley began diversity initiatives
to bring UT into the 21st century.
His first big move was appointing Theotis Robinson the vice president for equity and diversity. He has also started several committees to oversee the implementation of better diversity policies on campus.
Gilley has met with representatives from the Living Wage Campaign to find ways to give the workers on campus better pay for their long, hard hours of toil. He has given the workers a listening ear, and even though no major changes have been made yet, he a
ppears to be trying with the institution of a mid-year improvement for the lowest tier of workers.
The funding battle he fought so loudly last year waned as this year wore on, with trips to Nashville to lobby for more state money replaced by improvements made to the university to prove that we are worthy of funding.
Perhaps he lost his fervor for taking trips the state's capital, but we'd rather have him exactly where he's been: on campus making improvements with what we have. After all, we can only whine so much.
His communication skills with the different communities on campus can definitely still improve. He could also be clearer on his goals for the university, making them more public.
It's self-defeating to create initiatives if no one benefiting from the initiatives knows about them.
Gilley has definitely improved from the C- he received at the end of last year. But he can also still improve, and we fully expect just that.
Year grade: B-
SGA President Eric Beaty
With big shoes to fill from his predecessor, Beaty came onto the presidential scene with every intention of living up to those standards.
He may have been the head of the student government, but he seemed to blend in with the rest of the organization rather than stand out as its leader. Where last year's SGA was talkative, Beaty was quiet; where last year's SGA was idea-oriented, Beaty was
project-oriented.
Perhaps he took a more one of the people approach to being in charge.Looking at the list of accomplishments from the year, it looks like SGA got a lot done. Instead of accomplishing a few large projects, SGA did a large number of small projects.
The one big initiative for the year was the voter registration drive, a project with an end result of a minor disaster and a mid-sized publicity nightmare. Hundreds of students who had registered with the drive were turned away at the polls.
But it wasn't SGA's fault the students couldn't vote the Knox County Election Commission was slow in getting students' forms entered into the computers in time for the elections. We received numerous phone calls from angry, frustrated students who wante
d answers.
And we wanted answers, too, but Beaty wasn't willing to give them. In fact, no one in SGA was. It was too little, too late when the answer finally came.
One of the key elements of being a leader, especially in government, is to communicate with constituents as well as with other leaders. Being communicative is probably where Beaty failed most this year.
We're sure he did some excellent things, but we rarely heard about them.
Beaty wasn't a terrible president. He led the SGA through trying to improve safety on campus, passing an environmental policy that students want implemented by the university and making SGA more available to students by publicizing office hours and holdin
g senators and representatives accountable for them.
Our advice: Tell people what you're doing. That applies to everything in life.
Year grade: C