November 16, 2009 7:18:00 AM
Talk of closure and merger is aggravating, because it has the power to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Students lose confidence. Professors seek employment elsewhere. In light of hysterical headlines, who can blame them?
I just wish that everyone responding with such enthusiasm to the possible closure of The W, or the suggested merger with Mississippi State, could really understand that Mississippi University for Women is truly an underappreciated gem, a gem deserving to be polished, not tossed out or inappropriately glued to another piece of jewelry. I have been teaching at The W for almost 13 years, and have been teaching full-time since 1990. I know of what I speak.
Before I came to The W, I taught at a very expensive private college. The education that our students receive here is not only second to none and at an incredible bargain. The W fosters a small, private school atmosphere for a state school price and has catered to the needs of our young Mississippi women for more than 100 years, and our young Mississippi men for nearly 30.
We are not a big state university and we do not want to be. Not because we are selfish and wish to preserve our little fiefdoms, but because we see what our kind of experience and attention to detail can accomplish in the classroom. We see what our campus environment produces in our graduates, who are, without a doubt, some of the most dedicated, intelligent and loyal people out there.
They love The W. We love The W. Let''s not eradicate that uniquely beneficial experience.
Leslie Stratyner, Columbus
Grateful W Alum commented at 11/16/2009 10:57:00 AM:
I have nothing to add to this wonderful letter of support. However, I would like to express my deep and sincere appreciation to a member of MUW's faculty for speaking out and standing up. I only hope to hear more of this type of commentary from the university and the Columbus community.
Megan Morgan commented at 11/17/2009 7:38:00 AM:
The only other comparable education in the state, as far as class sizes and faculty dedication are concerned, is Millsaps. However, Millsaps does not routinely win as many excellence awards for teaching as MUW does, and it costs a small fortune to attend: tuition, room, and board at Millsaps costs between $35,000 and $45,000 per year. In contrast, tuition, room, and board at MUW costs between just $6,500 and $7,000 per year. MUW is more important than ever in a time of recession, because it provides the small liberal arts education many students desire at a price tag they can actually afford.
W Girl commented at 11/17/2009 7:46:00 AM:
This school means more to its students, faculty, and alums that these politicians can ever imagine. I chose to come here because of its small classrooms, many awards, and the multiple wonderful teachers I met before I made my decision.
I also checked out State before I made a final decision and even went to its campus. I think the reason the students at the W chose this campus is to avoid a large, confusing campus with too many people. On the W's campus I never cease to see a familiar face walking towards me or hear a friendly hello from behind me. It's wonderful to recognize the people from your classes out of the classroom. How could you do that if you had 200 people in one class?
This school is small for a reason and just because we don't have tens of thousands of students doesn't mean we don't have a school worth preserving.
Another W Girl commented at 11/17/2009 8:29:00 AM:
If this merger happens, I have a feeling that a lot of us will leave the state for expensive out-of-state private colleges like the one at which Dr. Stratyner previously taught. The fact of the matter is that education is not a one size fits all business, and some of Mississippi's best and brightest students thrive in the atmosphere that the W provides.
Class of 67 commented at 11/17/2009 4:13:00 PM:
The gem Dr. Stratyner wrote about really doesn't need a lot of polish. As articulated by previous alums here, MUW is one of the best bargains in the country, not just the South. Another advantage of the smaller university is that many of the graduates remain in academia and become leaders in their professions. Many of my classmates became physicians; I earned a graduate assistantship and my doctorate before I was 31 years old. The W fosters leadership and scholarship. Most of my professors were just that--professors. I had to leave the W to learn that many undergrads were taught by graduate students who had their own agendas, and often, focus was not on their students. My professors made a difference in my life, and some are still role models for me. The "threat" of the W being merged with State seems to rise at least once a decade and always when there is economic recession. Change is inevitable, but loss of identity is not necessary for the W to remain an intentionally smaller, but consistently excellent university. The first thing President Hogarth said at our Freshmen Orientation was that we should strive to make every place we entered better than before we came. There is evidence that most W alums do just that.
confused in columbus commented at 11/17/2009 4:39:00 PM:
I've read these glowing comments from "W" supporters but have to ask, "Where's the beef?" Students, for whatever reason, do not want to come here in sufficient numbers to keep the "W" off the hit list.
Why? Don't blame it on Dr. Limbert. The ongoing character assasinations aside, the "W"'s slippery slide toward irrelevance has been going on for years.
The logic of leaving the state for our education if the "W" is swallowed up by MSU doesn't make much sense. Would there be a rash of multi-story buildings constructed on campus? No, the footprint would most certainly stay the same for some time. The only difference is you might actually see teachers teaching and students learning in some of the now sadly vacant buildings.
wgrad06 commented at 11/21/2009 2:56:00 AM:
When I began my search for a 4-year college/university to transfer to I had no intention of looking at schools in the South. However, when I stumbled across the W's webpage I knew immediately that I had found exactly what I was looking for: a small, affordable university with a well-established reputation for academic excellence. That was enough to get me there. What kept me at the W was the professors who knew the names of every student in their classes; the students who did more than just talk about making a difference; Dr. Limbert's open door policy; the patience of the Financial Aid officers when I was forced to stalk them a month into every semester; Ma in the cafeteria noticing when I skipped meals; the Golden Girls still giggling like freshman and asking, Is this the way to Hogarth? The W is unique in so many little ways that make it one heck of a multifaceted gem. How can we afford to lose it?