(From The Campus Lantern – October 29th, 2015)
The first President’s Breakfast of the semester was held Wednesday, October 28th at 7:15 a.m. in Hurley’s President’s Dining Room. The meeting, which was open to all executive board members of Eastern’s student organizations, lasted about an hour.
The first item on the agenda under Dr. Elsa Nunez’s report was the facilities update. Final inspections are being made in the new Fine Arts Instructional Building, and furniture and equipment will start to be moved in soon. It was confirmed that classes will be held in the building starting next semester. The total cost for the building comes to around $65 million.
As for the Communications Building and Goddard Hall, the university is currently negotiating design contracts with architects. The construction is scheduled to start in 2017 and finish in late 2019. Faculty offices will be displaced from the buildings for anytime between 18 months to two years. During the construction time, classes will likely be held in temporary trailers. The university is making it a priority to keep adequate space and resources for the Eastern radio and television stations.
Starting around Spring 2017, Shafer Hall will start to undergo renovations into loft-style apartments. The Harry Hope Theatre that is currently in the building will be transformed into a gym facility. There will also be a small café that serves breakfast in the renovated dorm for students who live in Shafer, Noble, and Burr.
Next up was an update about the Pride Center, a project which Dr. Nunez noted had been discussed heavily last year in Student Government Association meetings. The budget for the space, which is currently called the Pride Room, has doubled since last year. There is currently a Coordinator and two undergraduate interns in the Room. The proposed location for the Pride Center would be in the SGA Suite downstairs in the Student Center, in the vicinity of the Unity Wing. Construction for the Pride Center is scheduled to begin this summer, with the space opening to the public next August. The cost of the project is about $100,000. To view and discuss diagrams of the Center, be sure to attend the next SGA meeting on Monday, November 2nd at 3 p.m. in room 107 of the Student Center.
Possibly the most anticipated item on the agenda was a budget update. The President started off the update by noting how $3.90 out of every $10 that the university spends is paid for by the state. The rest of the money is paid for by Eastern students. In other words, about 40% of the university’s funding, which estimates to a total of about $130 million per year, is paid for by the state, while 60% is student-funded. Dr. Nunez made it clear that if there are ever safety concerns for students, the university will find a way to provide funding to best accommodate the situation. She also urged how important it is for students to be informed about the status of the budget and involved in budget discussions, especially including testifying at the Capital.
Enrollment at the university was also discussed. The numbers are up this year, with a total of 977 new enrolled freshmen. 11% of the freshman class is from the top 10% of their high school class, and 32% are from the top 25%. In total, Eastern has 4,267 full-time undergraduate students. Since there is a lack of funding from the state, enrollment serves as a primary basis for the school’s budget.
Subsequent on the agenda was winter preparations. There is high student concern for on-campus parking and the increase in faculty spots. The President reminded everyone at the table that the long-term goal is to transform Eastern into a green campus with perimeter roads and no parking lots on campus, solely garages. She addressed the complaint that there is not enough parking on South Campus by announcing that there will eventually be a parking garage replacing Low Rise. She also noted that the reasoning for the change in parking policies on the second floor ramp in Shakespeare was because there were 80 faculty and staff parking spots that used to be where the new Fine Arts building stands.
When talking about winter, it is important to put on students’ radars that there may be ice falling from buildings. The buildings do have snow guards, but it is impossible to stop this problem from happening due to the sloped roofs. If students notice ice falling, and there are not yet barricades put up in the area, the President herself asks them call her office at (860) 465-5222.
Another hot topic discussed was the wireless internet on campus. Starting next week, the university will be moving Wi-Fi to new controllers and raising the bandwidth, so the connection should improve. In fact, the bandwidth is planned to increase from its current 1G up to 10G by January. The end goal is for students to be able to walk around the whole campus while staying connected to the Wi-Fi. Many students have complained about having issues with connecting their personal devices to the internet. If you are having problems with your connection, be sure to call the ITS Help Desk at (860) 465-4346 so they can assist you.
The breakfast ended with an SGA report and updates by the representatives from student organizations. To learn more about upcoming events put on by organizations, check the Online Event Calendar on Eastern’s website.