Pizza and politics: Town hall meeting 2017

Oct 18, 2017

The 2017 town hall meeting commenced at noon Oct. 18. The meeting began with pizza and ended with students saying “it went well.” The meeting was held as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns to the president’s cabinet as well as faculty and staff in attendance.

town hall meeting pizza
Students enjoy pizza before the meeting begins.

Members of the cabinet in attendance were Norm Jones, vice president for enrollment management, and Jennifer Gantz, vice president for finance administration, along with a number of faculty and staff members, and President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph. D. About 30 students were in attendance, some leaving and entering throughout.

Concerns that arose were largely financially focused. Questions asked included tuition increase, insurance fees and more.

The Fugate parking lot was a concern, but there are no plans currently in place to pave it — although Gantz said Dondlinger Construction recently filled in potholes. Carrocci added that the property is owned by the city of Wichita and it would be their responsibility to pave it.

The condition of Merlini Residence Hall was also a concern. Carrocci said that they hope to replace Merlini with an outdoor facility, concessions and apartments in three to four years.

Students also brought up the funding of scholarships at Newman. Jones urged students to visit, which compares institutions on many levels. This year, Newman is the least net private institution in the state.

Jones said, “We cost less on average than WSU. That means that we’re giving an awful lot of money in financial aid and institutional aid. We have the least debt when you graduate than any other school, which means students are not taking out loans due to the generosity of our scholarship program.” In summary, Newman has a heavy focus on student scholarship funding.

Hope for a unified school calendar was brought up and Rosemary Niedens, associate vice president for academic affairs, said it is a need and they are looking at a new software program to solve this issue.

Mabee Dining Center will be moving to a mandatory 19-meal plan for students on campus next year. It was explained as a smart business deal and a win-win for both Great Western Dining and students. Levi Esses, dean of students, said, “Students will actually be paying less on the 19-meal plan than they would on the 14-meal plan.” This is due to averaging out food costs, which lowers the price per meal.

The hope for a school nurse and wellness center was apparent. Carrocci said they have looked into it and hope to find a space to create a wellness center in the next two to three years. Newman does have a variety of health and counseling services through outsourcing. Student support services is located in Sacred Heart, room 302, and would be happy to show any student the options available to them for their health needs.

students listen
Students listen intently to responses from faculty and staff members.

The importance of filling out course evaluations was mentioned. They are confidential and highly useful to professors and others at the University. David Shubert, professor of chemistry and dean of arts and sciences, said the evaluations go through multiple levels of review. Neidens encouraged students to check their email in the next couple of weeks for the opportunity to evaluate advising experience, a new feature this year.

Carrocci said she was impressed with the students’ questions and thought the students appreciated the responses given by the cabinet, faculty and staff.