Outgoing Student Trustee Reflects on Term
The junior studying public relations along with a specialization in international studies, African studies and political science earned the position of student trustee as a first-year journalism student May 19, 2010 at OU’s annual Leadership Gala.
“It was a very long and rigorous application process, but I learned a lot about myself and it was an amazing opportunity to go through as a freshman. I also learned so much and got to see a lot of the university,” said Parker.
The process included three letters of recommendation, a committee of various student leaders throughout campus and an interview with then Gov. Ted Strickland. Parker was the final contender out of five other prospective trustees.
Parker currently stands as the 45th student trustee in the history of OU. It has only been since 1989 when the first two student trustees were selected by the Governor of Ohio to serve in a non-voting capacity. In all, the university currently has nine voting trustees, two national trustees, two student trustees, one alumnus representative and two faculty representatives.
Replacing then-graduating senior Chauncey Jackson, Parker commented in a 2010 article from the Scripps School of Communication how, “Journalists implement change through influence. The student trustee position goes along with everything I want to do in my journalism career and is really what my entire life goal is, which is to hear what changes people want and to hopefully help that come about through the influence of my position. It was kind of a no-brainer.”
And now, two years later, Parker feels she has accomplished just that.
Fueled by a passion to work in international affairs and lead a large government department, her tenure as an OU student trustee has provided the necessary skills to develop into her aspired career.
“Being a student trustee has taught me analytic skills and branched me into meaningful relationships with people who have done what I do and have accomplished things great than I have,” said Parker. “These are all invaluable skills and the position has truthfully cultivated my ability to communicate professionally and think in large crowds.”
As a student trustee, Parker sits on the Board of Trustees, the final decision-making body of OU. Student trustees also serve on several committees, including the Finance and Administration Board.
Parker accredits the board for being committed to overseeing the holistic experience of OU. She takes most pride in the fact of quality and precision of the various issues and implemented plans that have occurred throughout her career as trustee. She cited the Housing Master Plan and is enthused to have been a part of the decision-making process of that particular plan from the beginning.
“I have a direct influence on official decisions being decided, whether it is influence over the decision to either increase or decrease tuition or where money will be invested and spent to ensure the outcome is an invaluable experience for all,” said Parker.
As her term rounds home, Parker has been a part of two major issues recently facing OU: one such being the recently proposed intuition increases. She declared surprise at the numbers brought before her that not only exist on campus but the university as a whole. Her role was then to declare what her and her partner trustee, Allison Arnold, thought the proposal should be as far as the budget is concerned.
“I’ll admit that I didn’t see the point of an increase because unlike previous years, there had not been a major crisis or major budget deficit. We felt it was disheartening there would still be a proposition of a 3.5 percent increase – we were actually taken back by it,” she said. “So we went back and had it explained to us that an increase was needed in order for the university to uphold the quality and academic mission. I was then convinced that in order for my fellow students to have the quality of education I have enjoyed, I needed to vote in favor of the proposal.”
Parker agreed there were possible solutions sought after, but those solutions compromised the overall mission. However, she insisted that it was made clear to the board that continuation of solutions must be made because as a state institution, efficiency produced from the increased tuition is to be visible and assure everything has been done to waiver further increase.
“It just can’t happen every year,” said Parker.
Another recent issue that sparked throughout her career was HB 377, which was voted on by the Senate back in February. It would grant direct voting for all student trustees in all Ohio state universities.
Parker explained how her opinion of student trustees has evolved throughout her career, and it heavily involved voting power. She said she used to believe student trustees were more than capable of being able to vote but as she took the position, she quickly realized she was not prepared to vote on issues.
“It was definitely a learning curve, especially because I was just a student. I learned that to adequately be able to vote effectively, I have to be informed as I could be on all issues, and that includes pulling from experiences I haven’t experienced yet in my life,” said Parker.
However, she touched on the fact that the OU Board of Trustees are more open than other boards across the state. So while she isn’t opposed to voting powers nor pushing for voting powers, she said other trustees would be able to handle having such a power as long the experiences and resources were available to them.
“[The board] seeks our opinion and cherishes our particular student perspective,” said Parker.
Issues and experiences aside, Parker hopes future trustees will incorporate an even more active role of including not only students, but also faculty, staff and alumni.
“The perception is that we are student representatives, but we also represent the entire community as a whole. I’d like to see an increase in awareness of what we actually do as student trustees,” said Parker.
Communication through a recently created Twitter account and staying active in the community by attending various functions, sporting events and other galas fills up her planner for the rest of her tenure as OU student trustee. She is also occupied with interviewing candidates who will follow in her footsteps.
Parker said she has three pieces of advice to pass on to the prospective student trustee: ask a lot of questions, get a planner in order to make it your life and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
“You can make of this position whatever you want to make of it; there is no particular brand or mode that you have to abide by as long as you are professional and carrying out your duties,” she said. “Feel free to insert your personality and passion and mold the position to you.”
Parker reiterated that her time spent has been a highlight of her career at OU.
“Because of this position I will always be a Bobcat and involve and evolve myself as much as I have throughout my position,” said Parker.