Trustees discuss money matters, studentsƒ?TM involvement in Board

By Zach McDade

A $4 million increase in the cost for the new athletic facility, recent contributions to the school and the allocation of a $988,000 school budget surplus were topics of discussion last Friday during the open portion of the Board of Trustees fall meeting.

President Brian Rosenberg said it was his “privilege” to announce to the board all of the monetary commitments the school has received since the last board meeting in May.

Several of these 11 donations – totaling $4.4 million – came from trustees. Lynn Morgan ’68 donated $100,000 for the Chuck Green Civic Engagement Fellowship and the Annual Fund. Peter Fenn ’70 donated $150,000 for the Green Fellowship, Scholarship Fund and the Annual Fund. Paul Anderson ’73 donated $150,000 for Macalester’s endowment and inter-departmental research. Jerry Crawford ’71 donated $500,000 for the Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center (MARC) and the Annual Fund. President Rosenberg and his wife Carol also donated $100,000.

Other donations included a $100,000 contribution for a lectureship related to Middle Eastern Studies and a $150,000 commitment to the college’s new Institute for Global Citizenship.

Including this money, the school has now raised $52 million of the $150 million goal for the college’s current capital campaign.

The $4 million increase in the construction cost of the athletic facility, which will bring the total bill to $45 million, comes mostly as a result of a change in the cost per square foot of construction. New estimates put the cost at $220 per square foot, up from May estimates of $205.

Administrators estimated that the facility would cost $30 million last winter.

Rosenberg attributed the most recent change to “overly optimistic numbers” given by the contractors.

At Friday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to procure a loan of $22 million to finance the portion of the building not covered by $26 million of gifts and equity.

The loan includes $19 million to finish the project, $2 million in “cushion” and $1 million to move the softball field from its current location on Shaw Field to the south end of campus.

The board also unanimously moved to send $196,000 of the surplus to the college endowment, $734,000 toward the purchase of a home on 98 Cambridge St. and $57,000 for faculty expenses. The Mac Weekly reported last week that these expenses could include laboratory equipment purchases for science faculty.

In an interview after the meeting, Fenn, a trustee who runs a communications firm in Washington, D.C., spoke about the student protests surrounding the cost of the new athletic building and the school’s move away from need-blind admissions in January 2005.

“I love protests, and I think Macalester is a great place for protests,” he said.

He disagrees, however, with the connection the protestors drew between the cost of the building and the end of need-blind admissions at last Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The new building is “one of the continuous projects that have to be factored into a college,” Fenn said.
It would be built regardless of the school’s financial aid and admissions policies.

Macalester has “one of the highest grant and aid percentages of any college in the country,” Fenn added. Approximately 70 percent of current Macalester students receive need-based financial aid, he said.

“One of our top priorities is to make sure that continues,” Fenn said.

Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) members discussed with trustees last Friday the possibility of having a student observer present at closed sessions of the trustee meetings.

Fenn praised these efforts, saying the approach that the interested students took was respectful and mature.

“We’ve been happy about having students on the committees,” he said, referring to the smaller groups whose specialized votes and interests are passed on to the official board. These committees focus on, among other issues, finance, admissions and student life.

The next Board of Trustees meeting, a retreat, will take place in New York in January.

“We’ll take a look at various options for greater student involvement,” Fenn said of plans for the meeting.