School board elections should not be politically based. School board members should put the needs of students first.
Dr. Diana L. Hackney has always approached her work in a way that puts the student into the best possible educational environment to allow maximum success. I had the privilege of being impacted by her efforts, while I was student body president, to convince Drexel University’s Board of Trustees that it was in their best interest to put a student member on the board for the first time in Drexel’s 100-//+**eszhgyear history.
From Dr. Hackney’s first day on campus, she began talking to everyone — students, cafeteria workers, faculty, parents, the community, the city transit authority, the small business owners near campus, and so on.
She was the first administrator to visit the student newspaper office and later helped them learn that printing an ad in exchange for free pizza was not appropriate. It was about learning by doing with her because not only was it an ethical issue, it was also an opportunity for the students to learn budgeting and maximizing profits in a for-profit student operation.
She completely changed new student orientation based on the input she received using Total Quality Management (“TQM”). She holds a certificate after training in TQM with Conrail in Philadelphia. She took on complaints from parents who had their cars impounded during orientation because adequate parking was not provided; she took on making sure that parents were briefed on all the administrative aspects; she took on adding social and emotional aspects to the orientation including addressing how hard it is for parents to separate from their student. She even got the faculty to be involved in orientation — a first — and mingle with the parents while an engineering student was playing the piano in the faculty club.
One of the thousands of initiatives she did was the memorable installing of Astroturf up by the residence halls to provide recreation options not just limited to student-athletes on official teams. Try that in a metropolitan downtown city campus where land was at a premium for academic or business buildings.
As a parent and voter, I say to you: Our most important investment in life is our children and there’s no one else that will work as relentlessly and tirelessly as Dr. Hackney to make sure that investment pays the highest dividend in the form of your child’s education and development.
At one of her “get to know you” open forums, I told Dr. Hackney that the most important thing to me as a business major was making lots of money. She had no problem responding with one of her usual anecdotes: “Chris, you need to find something that gets you out of bed each morning with excitement and purpose — and that’s rarely just about how much money you will make.” She was right.
Chris Grazioso is a resident of Manchester Center, Vermont.