Trustee student liaison reports

By April Dejarlis

To the Board of Trustees, the college looks like it is in good shape overall.Student liaison to the Board Brian Stephenson ’10 briefed the Macalester College Student Government at their Oct. 6 meeting on what the Board discussed and their reactions.

“The Trustees are happy with the state of the college, particularly in relation to some of our peer institutions,” Stephenson said.

He said the board was particularly pleased with the progress of the college’s new heating and cooling plant, its comparatively good financial health in the recession, and its ability to support the largest class since 1971.

He relayed to MSCG current financial and project statuses, emphasizing Macalester’s resilience in light of the economic crisis. In comparison to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., which laid off 40 professors this year.

“We lost money but not as much,” he said.

Much of the briefing centered on updated the Board on on-going projects and issues at Macalester.

The Board learned that plans for the Janet Wallace Center for Fine Arts renovation are proceeding on an “aggressive timeline,” with finalization of blueprints scheduled for November.

They discussed how the new theatre would have “more curricular breathing room,” enhancing current faculty-student collaborations.

The Board also discussed the results of a recent survey of Macalester staff. Most staff viewed themselves as a part of the community. Areas of complaint from were the difficulty of upward mobility and pay rates, but the amount of vacation time was viewed as favorable.

Stephenson was appointed to the position of liaison for this school year, replacing Franz Meyer ’09. The position’s goal is to demystify the image of the trustees and to present student interests to the Board – a “conduit” for relations, Stephenson said, adding that the trustees “are real people”.

Stephenson’s project for his year as student liaison involves compiling student organizations’ priorities for Macalester and presenting them to the Board of Trustees. Even though Stephenson is a part of the Macalester student body, he recognizes he has biases.

“My perspective is not everyone’s,” he said.

While Stephenson believes the trustees have Macalester priorities straight, he knows that their perspective of the college may differ from the one of students.

“They have to treat Macalester as a quasi-business, and find out how to make it profitable,” he said.

Stephenson’s report was well received by MCSG.

“It’s really important we have him [Stephenson] as a resource,” MSCG president Rudy Herrera-Marmol said.