Cooke opposes merit aid


Abby EpsteinNews Writer

Searching for a new job after three years of being the dean at the University of South Alabama and founding their Honors College, Kathy Cooke has applied to be dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern.

“I started to worry the finances were going down at my current institution,” said Cooke. “That got me to look at jobs and when I looked at jobs, I came across Southern.”

Having previously lived nearby, Cooke became familiar with Southern.

“I learned that Southern is a place that seems to care about their students, has incredibly committed faculty,” said Cooke. “When I saw there was a job to be dean of Arts and Sciences it caught my attention.”

Finding scholarships and grants for students is one aspect Cooke looks to bring to Southern. She said she looks at grants and scholarships as a way of meeting student needs so they can go to college.

“I care about financial aid grants,” said Cooke. “and when I have the power, I use it.”

Cooke said she thinks merit aid has some value, but said she believes aid should not be given solely based on a student’s ACT or SAT score and that students should pay for what they can afford.

English Major Brandon Lovene, a ophomore said he does not agree with Cooke’s take on merit aid.

“There are economic disparities and people who were previously economically well off often have the ability to receive good merit aid and people who don’t, aren’t, but it is not that black and white,” said Lovene. “I feel like some students do receive merit aid who aren’t financially well off.”

Political science major Irene Machia, a junior said that on the other hand was not completely against Cooke’s take on merit aid.

“Instead of looking at merit and only looking at need, you can equalize that out for your student body, and I think that was a refreshing opinion to hear,” said Machia.

Cooke also looks to create positive relationships with the students she works with and plans on continuing this at Southern. Southern is a larger school than South Alabama and Cooke mentioned that it will be more of a struggle managing time for individual students.

“I’m going to be struggling with not being able to know my student’s names, but there are going to be students I will know well and that’s important,” said Cooke.

Students like Machia did like that Cooke said she makes herself accessible to students.

“As a representative at large in student government, that was something really nice to hear because it can be hard to work with administration,” said Machia.

Cooke said she previously worked at Quinnipiac as a history professor and director of the Honors Program before heading down to South Alabama university.

“I moved to South Alabama in part because I felt that is was too easy for someone in the north to say discouraging things about the south,” said Cooke. “I learned that [Southern is] a social justice committed institution and that is very meaningful to me. I’m very committed to social justice so that’s what brings me here.”

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