Town Hall addresses student questions, concerns

By Madeline Alvarez, Sports Editor

Members of the administrative cabinet and students addressed the financial state of the university and major decisions involving program changes and initiatives to cut costs at the Town Hall meeting on Thursday.

President of the Student Government Association Emily Larkin moderated the panel, asking the cabinet members questions that she said SGA had gathered from students last semester.

One question was about the high turnover rate the university experienced last semester. In all, Larkin said, the university lost 24 employees last semester.

“What positions are being replaced and which ones are not being replaced that would affect students the most?” Larkin asked.

Provost Kim Long said that the most turnovers Newman will see next year will be in Nursing and Allied Health. As many as seven faculty members from those departments may be leaving.

Long said that many of those professors will be retiring.

Interim President Teresa Hall Bartels said that any time an organization goes through significant change, there will be people can stick with it and others who choose to leave.

“We are going through significant change,” Bartels said. “We are looking at every position to make sure that it’s a position that we can continue to fund.”

Part of the problem, she said, is that the salary Newman pays faculty and staff is low.

“It is an issue that has history, and it can’t be fixed overnight,” Bartels said.

Larkin then opened the floor up to students who were in attendance to ask questions.

SGA Treasurer Courtney Klaus asked if a decision had been made about "controlling costs in the Fine Arts department," a statement the Board had made last semester that had prompted some students to believe that the Music Department would be cut.

"We're still in that decision making...probably decision delaying that we can do the best we can to bring in more revenue to support the kinds of things that you all want," Bartels said. "Inevitably, if we don't have the money, we can't do some of the things that we do. So there may have to be some cuts but none of those decisions have been actually made yet."

Bartels said that there are fewer first-time students enrolling. She said that fewer people are pursuing graduate degrees because they are being employed without them.

"What the board has that we're looking at financial sustainability over the long term," Bartels said. "We want to make sure that Newman University is here, as [Board of Trustees member] Father Mike [Simone] has said, 'Until Jesus returns.' And so, that requires that we really look hard at the environments that we're operating with."

Enrollment across the country has continued to decline, she said, and the projections are that by 2025-2026, the enrollment rate will significantly drop.

"Just like any of you with your own family budgets, we have to make some tough decisions," Bartels said.

PHOTO: Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief