Standing in a dark tunnel, a light appears before me. It's followed by a bleating horn, which grows louder by the second. I turn 180 degrees to flee the advancing train, only to find another bearing down.
Angelo State University chugs toward 10,000 students, maybe Division I sports status. It's the growth train, with shiny new cars, some over-packed with students while others are incomplete in construction. Conductor Rallo yells at every stop, "All aboard, this train is going places." He doesn't say exactly where.
The second train is ASU academics, specifically the university's accreditation. The engine is held together with duct tape and bailing wire. Conductor Rallo radios orders to this train. "I know I cut your fuel and maintenance budgets, but I need you to pull more weight." Engine-man May throws more coal into the hopper, while singing this ditty:
This train is on a race
Online or face to face
Main campus or satellite
Our goal is right, the aim just
Ten thousand heads or bust!
I see ASU achieving ramming speed. Here's one anonymous view from the inside, which I summarized:
Frankly, it's getting harder to put up with ASU's "grow at all costs," body count mentality. There's lip service about quality programs, but quality takes a back seat to increased numbers.
What happens when the two trains meet the end of 2012? Will they safely pass one another or collide in a fireball? It depends on their track. There are signs pointing to a collision, but that's for another post.