Baker University administration addresses students at senate meeting

Finances, reduction and reallocation, student development and enrollment management were all discussed at the Baker University Student Senate Tuesday.

University President Pat Long, Provost Randy Pembrook, Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rand Ziegler were at the meeting to address students and answer questions.

"I know some of you are feeling some anxiety and some stress," Ziegler said. "I've been around for a long time … and I want to tell you that I have never experienced the amount of anxiety and stress, that I know some of you are feeling, in my entire time here."

Students asked questions about why particular majors were cut, if cuts were being made in athletics, whether or not any of the eliminated programs would ever be reinstated at Baker and if the budget had been balanced.

"For this year, we are still working on balancing the budget for this year," Long said. "By June 30, we will be budgeted. We had a resolution to do that and we are very close. We have a prediction that we run, we watch the cash very closely."

Long said that while the administration is planning to have a balanced budget this year, it has to be cautious for the next few years when it comes to spending and she is hoping when money does start to come in, raising faculty salaries will be one of the first things to happen.

"I'm very concerned about our salaries for our faculty," Long said. "We can't lose our faculty."

Sophomore Brad Oliva found out at the student senate meeting that his major, molecular bioscience, had been changed from a major to a proposed concentration within the biology major.

"I'd heard a lot of talk from political science majors that their major was being cut, so I kind of felt sympathetic toward them," Oliva said. "Now I feel empathetic toward them because I feel for them. Once (Ziegler) said (molecular bioscience) was cut, my heart just started pounding. I was just like, ‘ok, what does this mean for me, what does this mean for me and my future and professional goals?'"

Students from the other majors that were recommended for change or elimination were also in attendance. The announcement of the elimination of the political science program was e-mailed to the Baker community Thursday and the changes in computer information systems, physical education, wildlife biology and molecular bioscience were sent in a statement to students, faculty and staff in an e-mail Tuesday from Long.

"The academic program review committee will continue to evaluate and streamline our curriculum over the coming year as the new liberal studies program becomes the foundation for an integrated multidisciplinary academic environment. We will update the university community as additional program changes go into effect," Long said in her statement. "There will also be ongoing review of our operations and athletics to position the University to fulfill our responsibility to current and future students as we move forward together."

During the meeting, Ziegler read a statement that was released to The Baker Orange Tuesday about the process the special joint faculty committee went through in order to make their recommendations to the president.

"I want to emphasize that I could not have been prouder of the dedication and thoroughness with which my faculty, staff and administrative colleagues on the Joint Committee approached this onerous responsibility," he said in the statement. "I am hoping that the broader Baker community, including students and alumni, will come to appreciate the difficulty of the committee's assignment and thank its members when provided with the opportunity."
 

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