Trustees on campus to discuss budget, adding faculty

By Amy Ledig

Approving the budget, hiring more professors, proposed changes to the sabbatical cycle and the rising cost of tuition are the issues before the Board of Trustees, which is on campus for the second of three yearly meetings Thursday and Friday.”It’s a quiet meeting,” said Blythe Austin ’08, student liaison to the Board. “The budget is the biggest thing.”

Student representatives to the Board and Macalester College Student Government’s Legislative Body will have lunch with the Board today, and Board members will have dinner with the Alumni Board tonight before Founders’ Day begins. The budget and resolutions of appreciation are the only items that will be coming before the full board, Austin said.

Examining the E-mail Workgroup’s recommendation that Google Applications for Education replace Oracle Collaboration Suite will be the work of the Infrastructure Committee. The Campus Life Committee will be discussing study abroad issues. The committee will hear from a panel of students who will discuss the increasing number of students going abroad and how that impacts on-campus life.

The Academic Affairs Committee will be looking at faculty expansion issues. Austin said $22 million has been set aside from the funds raised by the Capital Campaign to add new professors.

“We’re looking at increasing the faculty by about seven positions,” Austin said.

She added that the committee will also be looking at – but not voting on – the proposal to change the faculty sabbatical cycle. Currently faculty may take a sabbatical after six years of teaching; under the new proposal, they would be able to do so after four years.

The Finance Committee will be considering whether to approve the budget for next year, and the Investment Committee will hear briefly about the motion to divest Macalester’s shares in a company that has been implicated in funding the genocide in Darfur. Because the Social Responsibility Committee has yet to make a decision on the motion, which passed MCSG two weeks ago, the Trustees cannot make a decision about it yet.

During the plenary session, Austin said, the Board will hear from Chief Investment Officer Craig Aase ’70, Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton and Director of Financial Aid Brian Lindeman about the rising costs of education. They will discuss loan packages, pricing for tuition and college policy regarding drawing from the endowment.

A number of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Williams, Pomona and Stanford, made the news for their plans to eliminate loans from financial aid packages. Austin said that such a change would not be possible at Macalester, though.

“The fact is Mac can’t give [grants] because 70 percent of our students are on financial aid,” Austin said. She continued that schools that are doing more to help their middle class students by and large have more affluent student bodies than Macalester does. “We’re a more diverse school than many of those other top tier colleges, which is a good thing, but it means we can’t do a lot of things [those other schools do.]”

“At Davidson, which has 30 percent of students on financial aid, [these changes are] painless,” she said.

“We have a young board with a lot of new members – five or six joined this year, a lot last year,” Austin said. “Making sure everyone’s aware of how we go about these things is important because the trustees don’t all have the same level of knowledge,” Austin said.