SGA hosts semesterly President Provost Forum

Technews Writer
Sun Apr 08, 2018

Held on the afternoon of Friday March 6 in the Hermann Hall Ballroom, the semesterly President and Provost Forum offered students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to participate in a discussion with the heads of university administration - President Alan Cramb and Interim Provost Russell Betts. Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Vice President Adeena Ahmed moderated the event, stepping in for SGA President Morgan Peters. The questions oscillated between questions that had been anonymously submitted online to SGA and audience questions.

 

The event started with President Cramb and Interim Provost Betts describing their roles in the university. President Cramb explained the multitude of duties that make up his job, including recruiting new students, alumni relations, and securing funds to invest in the university. Betts, who is acting as interim provost after prior Provost Frances Bronet’s departure last fall, explained that students are the most important part of his job and his goals are based around maximizing their experiences at this university and ensuring they get the most utility they can.

 

 

The first online question asked about the status of the 10-year plan for the campus. Colette Porter, Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, responded to the physical aspects of the plan, including the completion of the the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Other updates and renovations mentioned by Porter were the reactivation of residence halls Bailey and Cunningham and a new wellness/athletics center, as outlined in the current request for proposals (RFP) that has been issued by the university.. President Cramb noted that the important thing is that we have a 10-year plan, also mentioning that renovations to academic buildings are needed as well, especially given the university’s status as an architecturally significant campus.

 

 

An audience member followed up by asking about whether McCormick Student Village (MSV), one of the university’s primary residence halls, was being planned to be redone or torn down. President Cramb responded first, saying that significant work was needed on the building and that going forward the cost to maintain the building would not continue to be viable. He said, once again, that an RFP was sent out that asked for housing options that would be appropriate for first and second year students. So far they have received 11 proposals, some of which include a renovation of Bailey and Cunningham and a new building. President Cramb stressed the importance that the project is something that students want, with the facility becoming more of a student life hub rather than just a place to sleep. He then stated that MSV would be with us for another five years, explaining that the process of replacing the beds in another facility while MSV is being worked on would take at least that amount of time. Dean of Students Katherine Stetz touched on the more immediate changes to the residence hall, including the recently added paint colors and another “big splash” that is yet to be determined but will be implemented over the summer and announced in the upcoming weeks.

 

 

The next online question mentioned the history of muggings and robberies in the area, asking the president and provost what they are doing administratively to address the issue. President Cramb started by saying that he takes the issue very seriously, noting that more Public Safety officers have been added over the past couple of years. He also pointed out that the number and type of crimes happening on and near campus have remained constant, and the statistics are generally better than some other places in the city. President Cramb explained that the most prevalent crime, cell phone theft, is a global issue that is often a crime of opportunity. He lauded public safety’s record of catching perpetrators, and the importance of contacting public safety officers when an incident occurs. Because of the recent robberies on the green line, President Cramb said that public safety officers have started walking on the platform at random times to deter crime. President Cramb said that he meets with both Vice President for Administration Bruce Watts and the local police commander regularly to keep updated on what is happening on and off campus.

 

Following the previous question, an audience member asked why the vision of Illinois Tech had changed, pointing to the official “vision statement” posted on Wikipedia. Interim Provost Betts, who wrote the current vision statement, responded that the entry must be from before when it changed 10 years ago. President Cramb said that while the mission statement changes occasionally to respond to the changes in the world, the vision statement rarely changes.

 

 

The next question from Ahmed asked what are the university’s short-term and long-term plans to address the current gaps and budget cuts felt across various facets of the university’s academic, citing the examples of recent cuts to both the Office of Digital Learning and the Department of Math & Science Education (MSED). Interim Provost Betts began by explaining how his office must look carefully at developing new programs that are responsive to the needs of Illinois Tech students and are viable in the modern world. In specific regards to MSED, Interim Provost Betts stated that the program was a “noble experiment, but it turned out to be not entirely sustainable. The numbers were just never sufficient.” He then stated that the program is unfortunately due to be “sunset,” although plans to finish the programs of students currently in the pipeline are being developed. President Cramb then broadened the answer by stating that all university degree programs need to change and adapt over time or else risk becoming obsolete. “Programs disappearing is not an indication of problems but rather an indication that other programs are more popular and current,” Cramb concluded.

 

 

Follow-up questions, both from the audience and from Ahmed, refocused the same discussion to focus more so on resources and equipment for classes and labs, not specific programs. To corroborate on this point, Ahmed presented the common situation of students paying a lab fee and expecting all the equipment needed for their labs to be there, only to be disappointed. President Cramb and Interim Provost Betts spoke in broad budgetary terms, with both acknowledging the current state of resource gaps is far from ideal. Interim Provost Betts simply stated that “we have a high mountain to climb with renovations,” and President Cramb conceded that “this is a tough time for education.” President Cramb then continued that the “plan to fill the resource gaps” is a business matter of balancing income and expenditures, with questions that need to be brought up and answered at the local, departmental level. Thus, President Cramb concluded with the advice that students get in the habit of being vocal about issues regarding their education quality to their respective department chairs and deans because from such feedback, more accurate assumptions and decisions can be made.

 

 

The next anonymous questions stated by Ahmed asked what the university is doing to ensure minorities, undocumented citizens, women, and other groups all feel safe and welcome on this campus. President Cramb responded that his goal is to ensure all Illinois Tech students have equal access to education, regardless of their background or identifiers. “I don’t care what the government says or what anyone says,” Cramb stated. “We want to be a home for everyone. We want to be a home for students who want to come here and learn.”

 

 

Ahmed then presented another anonymous audience question that asked about a project with prior Provost Bronet about crafting a policy and stance regarding the invitation of controversial speakers to the Illinois Tech campus. Interim Provost Betts referred to a crafted statement by the University Faculty Council that promotes free speech but also sets boundaries when such speech incites hatred. President Cramb concluded by affirming that he and Interim Provost Betts are “not in the world of telling people not to invite someone here.”

 

 

A question from an audience member then asked about the recent university decision to enter into a 10-year partnership with Compass Group North America – Chartwells Higher Education to provide all campus residential, retail, and catering dining options. Vice President for Finance and Administration took to the microphone to answer this question, describing the RFP process that created the pool of candidates, a brief overview of the criteria used to reach a final decision (based on factors such as proposed investment from the partner company), and the ending promise that meetings over the next few weeks would lead to more concrete details on infrastructure changes and investments to be made on campus. More information on this dining decision can be found in the corresponding article elsewhere in this issue of TechNews.

 

 

The final audience question from a student asked President Cramb what he looks for in student leaders. President Cramb responded by saying that he looks for students that try “to leave everything better. It is easy to be critical. It is much harder to come up with solutions. We’ll only become a better institution by our students helping us. We rely on student leadership to tell us what to,” as he cited the example of the President’s Student Advisory Council. Interim Provost Betts implored students to remember that “this is your university.” Although the consequences of actions taken now may not be felt until years in the future, he concluded the question and the forum by asking students to think about how they can benefit the next generation, not just the current one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Held on the afternoon of Friday March 6 in the Hermann Hall Ballroom, the semesterly President and Provost Forum offered students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to participate in a discussion with the heads of university administration - President Alan Cramb and Interim Provost Russell Betts. Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Vice President Adeena Ahmed moderated the event, stepping in for SGA President Morgan Peters. The questions oscillated between questions that had been anonymously submitted online to SGA and audience questions.

 

The event started with President Cramb and Interim Provost Betts describing their roles in the university. President Cramb explained the multitude of duties that make up his job, including recruiting new students, alumni relations, and securing funds to invest in the university. Betts, who is acting as interim provost after prior Provost Frances Bronet’s departure last fall, explained that students are the most important part of his job and his goals are based around maximizing their experiences at this university and ensuring they get the most utility they can.

 

 

The first online question asked about the status of the 10-year plan for the campus. Colette Porter, Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, responded to the physical aspects of the plan, including the completion of the the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Other updates and renovations mentioned by Porter were the reactivation of residence halls Bailey and Cunningham and a new wellness/athletics center, as outlined in the current request for proposals (RFP) that has been issued by the university.. President Cramb noted that the important thing is that we have a 10-year plan, also mentioning that renovations to academic buildings are needed as well, especially given the university’s status as an architecturally significant campus.

 

 

An audience member followed up by asking about whether McCormick Student Village (MSV), one of the university’s primary residence halls, was being planned to be redone or torn down. President Cramb responded first, saying that significant work was needed on the building and that going forward the cost to maintain the building would not continue to be viable. He said, once again, that an RFP was sent out that asked for housing options that would be appropriate for first and second year students. So far they have received 11 proposals, some of which include a renovation of Bailey and Cunningham and a new building. President Cramb stressed the importance that the project is something that students want, with the facility becoming more of a student life hub rather than just a place to sleep. He then stated that MSV would be with us for another five years, explaining that the process of replacing the beds in another facility while MSV is being worked on would take at least that amount of time. Dean of Students Katherine Stetz touched on the more immediate changes to the residence hall, including the recently added paint colors and another “big splash” that is yet to be determined but will be implemented over the summer and announced in the upcoming weeks.

 

 

The next online question mentioned the history of muggings and robberies in the area, asking the president and provost what they are doing administratively to address the issue. President Cramb started by saying that he takes the issue very seriously, noting that more Public Safety officers have been added over the past couple of years. He also pointed out that the number and type of crimes happening on and near campus have remained constant, and the statistics are generally better than some other places in the city. President Cramb explained that the most prevalent crime, cell phone theft, is a global issue that is often a crime of opportunity. He lauded public safety’s record of catching perpetrators, and the importance of contacting public safety officers when an incident occurs. Because of the recent robberies on the green line, President Cramb said that public safety officers have started walking on the platform at random times to deter crime. President Cramb said that he meets with both Vice President for Administration Bruce Watts and the local police commander regularly to keep updated on what is happening on and off campus.

 

Following the previous question, an audience member asked why the vision of Illinois Tech had changed, pointing to the official “vision statement” posted on Wikipedia. Interim Provost Betts, who wrote the current vision statement, responded that the entry must be from before when it changed 10 years ago. President Cramb said that while the mission statement changes occasionally to respond to the changes in the world, the vision statement rarely changes.

 

 

The next question from Ahmed asked what are the university’s short-term and long-term plans to address the current gaps and budget cuts felt across various facets of the university’s academic, citing the examples of recent cuts to both the Office of Digital Learning and the Department of Math & Science Education (MSED). Interim Provost Betts began by explaining how his office must look carefully at developing new programs that are responsive to the needs of Illinois Tech students and are viable in the modern world. In specific regards to MSED, Interim Provost Betts stated that the program was a “noble experiment, but it turned out to be not entirely sustainable. The numbers were just never sufficient.” He then stated that the program is unfortunately due to be “sunset,” although plans to finish the programs of students currently in the pipeline are being developed. President Cramb then broadened the answer by stating that all university degree programs need to change and adapt over time or else risk becoming obsolete. “Programs disappearing is not an indication of problems but rather an indication that other programs are more popular and current,” Cramb concluded.

 

 

Follow-up questions, both from the audience and from Ahmed, refocused the same discussion to focus more so on resources and equipment for classes and labs, not specific programs. To corroborate on this point, Ahmed presented the common situation of students paying a lab fee and expecting all the equipment needed for their labs to be there, only to be disappointed. President Cramb and Interim Provost Betts spoke in broad budgetary terms, with both acknowledging the current state of resource gaps is far from ideal. Interim Provost Betts simply stated that “we have a high mountain to climb with renovations,” and President Cramb conceded that “this is a tough time for education.” President Cramb then continued that the “plan to fill the resource gaps” is a business matter of balancing income and expenditures, with questions that need to be brought up and answered at the local, departmental level. Thus, President Cramb concluded with the advice that students get in the habit of being vocal about issues regarding their education quality to their respective department chairs and deans because from such feedback, more accurate assumptions and decisions can be made.

 

 

The next anonymous questions stated by Ahmed asked what the university is doing to ensure minorities, undocumented citizens, women, and other groups all feel safe and welcome on this campus. President Cramb responded that his goal is to ensure all Illinois Tech students have equal access to education, regardless of their background or identifiers. “I don’t care what the government says or what anyone says,” Cramb stated. “We want to be a home for everyone. We want to be a home for students who want to come here and learn.”

 

 

Ahmed then presented another anonymous audience question that asked about a project with prior Provost Bronet about crafting a policy and stance regarding the invitation of controversial speakers to the Illinois Tech campus. Interim Provost Betts referred to a crafted statement by the University Faculty Council that promotes free speech but also sets boundaries when such speech incites hatred. President Cramb concluded by affirming that he and Interim Provost Betts are “not in the world of telling people not to invite someone here.”

 

 

A question from an audience member then asked about the recent university decision to enter into a 10-year partnership with Compass Group North America – Chartwells Higher Education to provide all campus residential, retail, and catering dining options. Vice President for Finance and Administration took to the microphone to answer this question, describing the RFP process that created the pool of candidates, a brief overview of the criteria used to reach a final decision (based on factors such as proposed investment from the partner company), and the ending promise that meetings over the next few weeks would lead to more concrete details on infrastructure changes and investments to be made on campus. More information on this dining decision can be found in the corresponding article elsewhere in this issue of TechNews.

 

 

The final audience question from a student asked President Cramb what he looks for in student leaders. President Cramb responded by saying that he looks for students that try “to leave everything better. It is easy to be critical. It is much harder to come up with solutions. We’ll only become a better institution by our students helping us. We rely on student leadership to tell us what to,” as he cited the example of the President’s Student Advisory Council. Interim Provost Betts implored students to remember that “this is your university.” Although the consequences of actions taken now may not be felt until years in the future, he concluded the question and the forum by asking students to think about how they can benefit the next generation, not just the current one.

 

 

 

 

Tags
Channel