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

Your experience is impacted by Board decisions

By Yeukai Mudzi

This October the Board of Trustees discussed matters that affect your student experience. There were reports on the kinds of students that were excluded because of the “need-aware” admissions policy, the lack of discourse across differences, the construction of the Fine Arts Building and the need to stop adding departments and concentrations without eliminating some.Five years ago Macalester shifted from a need-blind to a need-aware admissions policy. A need-blind policy allows for students to be admitted on their merit regardless of their finances while need-aware factors in students’ ability to pay. Lorne Robinson (VP of Admissions and Financial Aid) highlighted that this year was Macalester’s toughest year yet under “need-aware.” For example gender diversity had to be sacrificed because of finances. The class of 2014 has a male to female ratio of 39 percent to 61 percent. Robinson gave some bios of students who had to be removed from the list after their finances were considered, and compared these to those of replacement students. Replacement students had good SAT scores but not as good general grades (i.e. they are underachievers). Trustees requested that there be an analysis of how these replacement students fare at Mac. They also expressed concern that we may be admitting a large number of middle-income students as a result of the need-aware policy.

However, Robinson reminded them that Macalester is still more generous than many schools in its financial aid Macalester’s aid increased for the class of 2014. Furthermore, Trustees made the decision to shift to the need-aware policy in order to secure the financial stability of the college. And, though gender diversity reduced, Macalester saw an increase in other areas. The class of 2014 has the largest number of US students of color since 1970. Mac has hired an external consultant firm to take a close look at our financial aid and enrollment experience over the past two years and once published, the report will be shared with Trustees.

On the note of the Fine Arts, after extensive discussion in the Finance committee a motion was brought forward to the Board that President Rosenberg and David Wheaton, the vice president for administration and finance be allowed to borrow $16 million with approval of the Board and up to $20 million with further consultation only with the Finance committee. Phase 1 of construction will begin this January. Don’t miss the celebration this Monday in the Concert Hall at 12:15 p.m.

Students also had opportunities to make presentations. In Campus Life, MCSG chair Owen Truesdell ’11 and I, spoke about civility–where we see it lacking, hate incidents, lack of civil dialogue across differences and how creating a better sense of community can lead to mutual respect and accountability (the Lilly Summer Fellows intentional community model). Dean of Students Jim Hoppe ended with how we will be able to see progress (e.g lessening of incidents, evidence of more dialogue, less division by pseudo-knowledge from majors, better sense of community on campus and confirmation from graduates as they enter new communities). This discussion sparked the “Build A Better Mac” coalition.

In the Academic Committee Professor Andy Overman and two of his students shared about their archaeology experience in Israel, allowing Trustees to see some exciting things going on in academics at Mac. However, the sentiment from the faculty governance presentation given in the main Board meeting suggested that for academics to be able to do more cutting-edge things, Mac cannot continue on the same trajectory of adding departments and concentrations without eliminating any. Provost Kathy Murray, associate dean of faculty, Kendrick Brown and chair of the Educational Policy and Governance Committee (EPAG) Tom Varberg presented about faculties’ role in decisions surrounding academics, highlighting the current problematic nature in this process. There is currently one line explaining how to eliminate departments, yet there are pages on how to make tenure and reappointment decisions. EPAG is trying to come up with a collaborative yet effective process on eliminating departments.

Clearly Board discussions and decisions have great impact on student experiences’ thus, student-trustee interaction is critical. However, not only will this interaction inform Board decisions, it will also yield useful networking for students because Trustees have influential professional positions. Visit If you want a Trustee to come for your student org. event or an opportunity to interact with them, contact me at [email protected]. Don’t miss the forum Tues., Nov. 23, at 5 p.m. in the library. Come pose any questions to the Chair of the Board Dave Deno and President Rosenberg.

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