Editorial: Beauchamp leaves legacy of transformation

By The Beacon | October 3, 2013 12:47am

Imagine The Bluff with no Bell Tower. Imagine 800 fewer students walking to and from class each day. Imagine Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls don’t exist, Bauccio Commons and Shiley Hall are half their sizes and the Clark Library still looks like it was built in the 1970s.

That’s what campus was like in 2003, before Fr. Bill Beauchamp took office as University president.

Last Friday, Beauchamp announced in an email to the UP community that he will step down from his office at the end of this academic year. Beauchamp leaves behind a legacy not only of physical changes to campus, but also of high standards and academic achievement.

Under the president’s leadership, the University’s profile has skyrocketed. Incoming classes have grown — and continue to grow — larger, smarter and more diverse, making UP a more selective and prestigious school. The University consistently earns high rankings in U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best Colleges Rankings.

Also during Beauchamp’s time as president, the University has committed itself to environmental sustainability. Several buildings on campus are LEED certified and bottled water is no longer sold on campus. Steps like these have established UP as an environmental leader among American colleges.

But Beauchamp’s mark on UP goes beyond statistics and advertising points. People who know Beauchamp well say that even though he may not be gregarious or outwardly enthusiastic, he cares deeply about the students of UP.

John Soisson, special assistant to the president, said that Beauchamp grumbled when the Board of Regents told him to move into the president’s house. He enjoyed his time living in Corrado Hall in close community with students. Soisson also said Beauchamp’s main concern — the thing that keeps him up at night — is making sure students can pay for their education.

Most recently, Beauchamp showed that he cares about students by facilitating the conversation on Nondiscrimination Policy that students called for last spring. Though Beauchamp’s remarks triggered the Redefine Purple Pride movement, he was willing to continue the conversation students asked for.

While many students may have wished the change in the Nondiscrimination Policy would come faster (and it was a long wait), Beauchamp did what he could within the rules to expedite the process. He formed the PACI, talked to the Board of Regents about it and asked them to vote as soon as they could. And last Friday, the same day the Regents voted to include sexual orientation in the Nondiscrimination Policy, he announced it to the community. Beauchamp’s leadership allowed the change to take place.

This response to Redefine Purple Pride shows that Beauchamp cares deeply about student voices and opinions. He cares about the University community, and he’s done a good job leading it.

Thank you, Fr. Bill, for caring. Thank you for your service to the community and for transforming The Bluff into what it is today. We can only hope our next president is equally ambitious and dedicated.