Friday, September 14, 2012

Keeping up with Krise

By Amelia Heath, Focus Editor

While students add the final touches to their dorm rooms, Pacific Lutheran University’s new president is creating a space of his own.

More than a week has passed since Thomas W. Krise was inaugurated into the 13th presidency of Pacific Lutheran University, but for him the work began June 1.

Krise joins the PLU community with some major changes already in place. In particular, the enforcement of a campus-wide smoking ban beginning June 1 and the May announcement of the university’s new Wellness Access Plan, a healthcare supplement replacing PLU’s former insurance policy that sparked heated discussion among staff, faculty and students throughout the 2011-2012 academic year. Tasked with walking into already-developed disagreements, Krise said the best remedy would be to “engage every constituency” and “carefully discuss all the options” to ensure the effectiveness of the university’s shared governance system.

Throughout the summer, Krise and the president’s council—vice presidents Sheri Tonn, Laura Majovski, Stephen Olson, Karl Stumo, Provost Steven Starkovich and Greg Brewis, executive director of University Communications—worked with PLU staff and faculty on strategic planning to follow up on the long-range planning outlined in PLU 2020, the university’s ten-year plan.

The plan was drafted last year by a long-range planning committee comprised of faculty, administration, members of the president’s council, students and former university president Loren Anderson.

For Krise, part of that plan includes expansion of the international program.

“We have a gateway country for almost all of the languages that we teach,” Krise said. “Then we have certain kinds of study abroad opportunities in every language. But we don’t have formal gateway structures for Francophone—any French-speaking places—or German-speaking places. So that just looks like an opportunity for some potential there, is being more formal with countries that speak French or German.”

Formerly the dean of the College of the Pacific at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., Krise said the main difference between the college and PLU lies in the graduate and professional programs offered. According to their respective websites, University of the Pacific offers 25 graduate degrees and five professional degrees—PLU offers only 15 graduate degrees. Additionally, Krise said PLU has potential for more summer classes.

Another goal for Krise is to unite members of the university community through the PLU’s award-winning ROTC program. In the 2011-2012 academic year, 120 students were enrolled in the ROTC program. One-hundred thirty current PLU students are veterans attending school through the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon program.

Krise said a big goal for him during his time as president is to engage with as many student groups as possible. He and his wife of 25 years, Patty Krise, toured all of PLU’s residence halls on move-in day and attended a new cadet orientation barbecue for the university ROTC program. The Krises also toured the ROTC facilities and the Memorial Gym.

Moving forward, Krise said he hopes to make international students in particular feel welcome at PLU.

“We’re delighted to have so many students from so many countries around the world,” Krise said. “That’s a really big plus for us. It helps everybody’s education and everybody’s experience.”

PLU’s convocation ceremony Sept. 4 included Krise’s inauguration, but for him, he said, the emphasis was wholly on the students.

“At other institutions you’ll have a separate ceremony for the inauguration,” Krise said. “So I think the message that we were sending by combining them is to say that the students are really the centerpiece of why we’re all here.”