Trustee ensures student concerns get a hearing
By Lindsay Bowman
Rachel Cumberbatch's life changed in a big way last summer.
In addition to her already busy life, the junior animal science major from Lebanon, Ind., now has to think about keeping down tuition costs - for herself and 38,000 students. In July 2005 Cumberbatch was elected to a two-year term as Purdue University's student trustee. "As student trustee I have full voting rights just like everyone on the board on issues like tuition, strategic planning and all other executive matters," said Cumberbatch.
The Board of Trustees is Purdue's main governing power. The 10-member board even has more authority than Martin C. Jischke, the university's president. "Rachel not only focuses on student issues, she concentrates on all issues that face Purdue and helps deal with those," said Tim McGinley, a current Purdue trustee. "Rachel has a much bigger, much broader role than just serving students."
Being and having this decision-making authority on such pressing issues is something only she has the opportunity to do. Cumberbatch says she takes her obligations seriously and sees herself as a barometer for students. "I listen to the feelings and the voices of all people on campus, including students and faculty, and relay that information on," she said. "Of course, the Board of Trustees is also continuing to attack the issues of strategic planning and monitoring Purdue's progress toward its goal of preeminence. These are some issues that students, faculty and staff pay particular attention to, because the decisions made directly affect them and their work environment."
Cumberbatch said she got interested in seeking the position after a previous student trustee told her it was a wonderful experience. "I saw it as a unique opportunity to make a difference on campus and the chance to work with President Jischke and other big-wigs on campus directly," she said.
Other trustees have enjoyed working with Cumberbatch. "Rachel is very bright and very capable. She has already put a lot of time and effort into this role, for which we are thankful. I'm sure she'll make marvelous contributions to this board," McGinley said.
Besides being a trustee, Cumberbatch is a voice for the Department of Animal Science in her role as an Animal Science Ambassador. Ambassadors actively promote the College of Agriculture by giving presentations about careers in agriculture, representing the college at information and career fairs, and hosting alumni and dignitaries at events. She also pursues her interests in medicine and serving others through the Timmy Foundation, which gathers clothes, shoes, books, computers, medicine and medical equipment for programs overseas.
Getting involved has always been a priority to Cumberbatch. Now as trustee, she is involved at the highest level at Purdue because she has ultimate say in matters at the university.