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"Concord Cares" Survey Results Presented At Constituents' Day

By James Trent
On March 28, 2018

On March 20, the Student Government Association (SGA) presented its findings from its “Concord Cares” survey to the Board of Governors during this year’s Constituents’ Day.

The SGA recently went around campus and encouraged students to anonymously fill out a survey about how they felt about their time and education at Concord. The survey consisted of eight yes-or-no questions, including “Are you happy you chose to attend Concord University?” and “Do you think the future of Concord University is secure?” There were also two optional write-in questions, asking, “What is the best thing Concord University has done for you?” and “Please provide us with any additional comments, concerns, suggestions, or opinions.” The survey reached one-third of the student body, which is the largest response the SGA has gotten for one of their surveys to date.

Many of the responses seemed to be positive regarding students’ experiences at Concord. 87 percent of students were happy they chose to attend Concord University, 88 percent said they felt their classes prepared them for future careers, and 93 percent said that they thought their professors were invested in their education. The comments about what the University had done for its students were also very positive. One student wrote in that “Concord University has given me an unforgettable life experience from coming here to complete my degree, I have made lifelong friends, contacts, and expanded my horizons greatly. Concord has also given me a great education.”

When it came to Concord’s future, however, student opinion seemed to be split. Only 56 percent of surveyed students thought that the school made decisions that were in the students’ best interests, only 40 percent planned to be active alumni, and students were split 50-50 when it came to the school’s future being secure or not. Many students also used the additional comments section to voice complaints. There were many complaints about the fact that Mr. Jack Sheffler was fired and the way students believed that the situation with Mr. Sheffler was handled.

Complaints about specific administrative personnel accompanied these.  One student also commented that “Concord will probably be shut down by 2022 in my opinion, #classof2018.”

SGA brought the survey results in a PowerPoint presentation before the Board of Governors on Constituents’ Day, March 20. Many of the comments from students were incorporated into different slides detailing the SGA’s activities during the semester, such as attending Higher Education Day in Charleston and the “Wild and Winterful” Winter Formal.

When it came to the survey, SGA president Sarah Fancher told the Board, “The goal was to present to [the board] the authentic and unfiltered opinion of the student body.” Fancher addressed the students’ pessimistic views on Concord’s future by first speaking about the positive experiences students were reporting on campus, but said that students do not plan on being active alumni because,  she stated, “Why should we plan on being active in a future we are not sure will exist?”

The Board’s reaction to the survey results were lukewarm, though perhaps undercut by the unintentional release of the survey results to the entire campus on the part of the SGA, including the negative comments about the administration and some faculty.

Mr. Richard Jarrell, secretary of the Board and owner of Beckley’s Chick-fil-a, commented that releasing negative comments “fuels the fire” behind the negative perceptions some students have of administration and campus morale. President Sarah Fancher was quick to respond that the results of the survey were public information, obtainable by request. The only thing that would have changed would have been the striking of any private names mentioned in the survey responses. Faculty and administrative personnel are public figures, and so their names would not have been struck from the comments had the results been released intentionally.

Other than that comment, the Board made little note of the survey results. Mr. Jarrell also mentioned that he was impressed that the SGA representatives had all dressed in formal wear for the event, and Mr. Doug Maddy, President and CEO of Visit West Virginia commented that he appreciated the efforts of the SGA to obtain to the survey data, since it was a job that only the SGA, as students, could have done.

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