Student liaison reports back on Trustee meeting

By Blythe Austin

Last summer I was appointed the first Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees. Having a single student in meetings with the Board is huge: while Macalester has had student representatives at specific meetings with the trustees, from now on there will be a student with almost unlimited access to Board meetings. The Board, administration, and I are working together to ensure that these meetings be more transparent.Macalester is generally doing well. Our academics are strong and endowment returns are strong. So, given that the administration is doing its job in running the college, trustees had little to vote on last week. They spent most of their time divided into committees that heard presentations on everything from Mac’s technological security to the roles of faculty committees on campus.

The trustees only voted on a few motions, almost all of which were routine approval votes. The single controversial moment was in the Finance Committee, when trustees briefly debated whether to seed or turf the new softball and baseball fields. The design plans called for seeding, but because the MARC is under budget the college could afford to pay more money to turf the fields instead. Sarah Halloran ’10, a student representative on the Buildings and Grounds Committee and member of the Macalester Softball team, told her committee that the softball team wanted its field seeded, not turfed. Halloran’s words swayed trustees, and they voted to seed the fields and save the extra money for now.

Rosenberg spoke at length about how Macalester as an institution is more comfortable with its identity now than it was five years ago. We’re an urban school and must incorporate the Twin Cities into Macalester life. We’ve also developed more international concentrations and course offerings, such as Middle Eastern Studies and Chinese language, which support our commitment to internationalism.

He went on to remark on some of the major challenges Mac faces in the future, particularly the increasing cost of coming here. Financial aid must continue to be a major priority and tuition cannot keep rising at the current rate indefinitely. Also, the school needs to consider ways to help students who do not qualify for need-based aid but for whom paying full tuition is a large burden. Other schools are attracting such students by offering merit-based aid, which Mac does not do.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. Also, Macalester’s Board Chair, Tim Hart-Andersen, has agreed to hold open office hours on campus on Tuesday Oct. 23rd from 5-7 p.m. in CC 216. Come chat with him directly.

Blythe Austin ’08 is the student liaison to the Board of Trustees. She can be contacted at [email protected]