Faculty holds first meeting, discusses budget shortfalls

Photo by Ani Somers

By Quinn Guy

The Lewis & Clark College faculty held their first meeting of the academic year on Oct. 3. LC has many changes this year, including a new president and progress on general education reform.

Wim Wiewel, the new LC president, introduced himself officially and gave remarks on his excitement to join the LC community. He praised the “engaged and passionate” students of the school. His plan for the year is to “observe for three to six months” before making any large decisions. He said he does not see any reason to make immediate, drastic changes. The president’s remarks ended with no mention of the current budget issues.

Following Wiewel, Interim Dean Bruce Suttmeier focused on the budget and enrollment issues. The expected enrollment numbers have not been met the past few years. The school has attempted to meet goals and has either fallen short or exceeded expectations. This year, the enrollment fell short of expectations by approximately 53 students, excluding students who did not return and transfer student expectancies.

Admissions and Financial Aid Chair, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair Rachel Cole said that she “wants help and communication from the faculty” concerning the admissions process. Cole is hoping to make the student-professor relationship at LC more evident to prospective students because she believes that is currently not being communicated sufficiently.

The budget committee can not move forward until official numbers are released for enrollment, which is expected mid-October, according to Associate Professor of Philosophy Joel Martinez, chair of the LC Budget Committee. Martinez asked the faculty to communicate to him what they financially need and want from the Board of Trustees. Salary has been discussed by the faculty for many years with little results. Some faculty members would like the focus of the discussions to shift, according to Associate Professor of Economics and Department Chair Cliff Bekar.

“The focus now must be on compensation not salary,” Bekar said.

Along with faculty salary, the discount rate for incoming students was discussed. In recent years the rate increased from 30% to 40% and some professors believe this increase is too much, although some students are still struggling through debt and cannot attend the school they wish to due to financial obstacles.

New Student Orientation this year was a success, according to the responses from student surveys.

The Lorry Lokey Faculty Excellence Award, an award giving grant money to support distinguished faculty,  has a different selection process this year.

“It’s going to be a little more transparent and standardized,” Suttmeier said.

With the mention of the award, faculty raised questions and shared opinions about how to vote for the award and who will decide the candidates. In past years it had been previously awarded to student-nominated faculty members. Discussion about the process is ongoing.

Associate Professor of Music Kathy FitzGibbon, representative of the General Education Super Team, the group responsible for reforming the LC General Education curriculum, gave a presentation on the progress the team has made. She also raised the question of whether General Education courses should be required for seniors. Most professors were in favor of the idea. The General Education Super Team is also looking for ways to change the curriculum to better represent the school and what LC stands for as a community.

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