The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Tough questions for trustees

By Daniel Kerwin

The atmosphere of economic uncertainty left the Board of Trustees with only a preliminary budget to consider and many more questions about the college’s future course.The two topics that dominated discussion during the main part of the meeting were the plans to renovate the fine arts complex and the college’s budgeting process for next year.

“There were no major decisions made about those, the budget will be approved in May and the fine arts project will have a decision date of some kind that will be in 2009, but exactly when is not clear,” Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton said. “In some ways it was just more of an update on the progress of each of those.”

The trustees were shown possible images of what the fine arts complex might look like by the project architect, who came from Boston for the meeting. Although some plans for the project were already discussed at the January Board of Trustees meeting, the presence of the architect allowed for more questions to be answered.

There was also discussion about how the project could best be phased depending on the level of fundraising it reaches.

“I think the most important thing now about the fine arts project is that we need to have conversations with our donors, who will really give us a sense for how that project might proceed because they’re the ones that’ll make it happen,” Wheaton said.

According to student liaison to the board Franz Meyer ’09, “It’s the most challenging fundraising environment that any person at Macalester has ever seen, but we’re pushing ahead anyway.”

The budget for the coming year, normally decided on by the Board in March, is being delayed until May to allow more time to assess the economic situation at the college.

“Because of the change in this process, [the Board] already had a chance to have a first round of discussions,” Wheaton said. “That is not our typical practice, but since we had the time available we’ve taken advantage of it.”

The budget committee is planning on having the budget ready to send to the Board by mid-April. The budget needs to be approved by the Board and the finance committee to go into effect. Passing the budget will be the major focus of the next Board of Trustees meeting in May.

The infrastructure committee was focused on the new Institute for Global Citizenship building, spending almost an equal amount of time discussing the programming that the building will offer as the environmental benefits of the building. Committee members were also able to take a tour of the building.

“It was a good chance for them to be in the building when you can visualize what it’ll actually look like,” Wheaton said.

The campus life committee talked about intentional learning communities in dorms and also discussed the effect of the financial crisis on student life on campus.

According to Meyer, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre took the opportunity at the meeting to get feedback from the students as to which programs on campus they viewed as untouchable in the face of potential programming cuts.

The Academic Affairs, Finance, Investment and Capital Campaign steering committees also had separate meetings.

The two-day format of the meeting allowed plenty of time for the trustees to escape the meeting room and emerge themselves into campus life. Several trustees sat in on classes just before lunch on Friday and some also had a lunch with MCSG members on Friday. Many trustees stayed for the Founder’s Day celebration in the evening.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on campus in May, during the commencement festivities.

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