Exhibit Fuses Art and Technology

The art exhibition Full Circle celebrates the intertwining of art and technology using rapid prototyping and its evolution from 2003 to the present.

“Full Circle started for me in the 1990s when I started working with a computer,” artist and professor Mary Visser said. “I was doing the Brown Symposium and they had one of the first Macs here [at the university]… and they had a wonderful graphic of a Japanese woman on it, and I thought, ‘You can do that with a pixel?’ I was hooked.”

Visser wasn’t the only artist intrigued by the artistic possibilities of computers and the Internet. She soon found DAAP, a community of sculptors, artists, and architects who created in an online world supplied by the 3D virtual reality platform Active Worlds.

“First we were just sharing files across the internet because we didn’t have a way to build any of them,” Visser said.

This all changed in the early 2000s with the invention of a new technology called rapid prototyping.

Basically, a rapid prototyping machine uses a digital line drawing made up of 900,000 tiny triangles as a template for creating a tangible version of a digitally created sculpture. The machine rolls a fine layer of some sort of powdered resin over a surface, and wherever the triangles make a point on the line drawing, the computer tells lasers to fuse that resin. This is called selective laser centering and it allows for extremely detailed work that’s impossible to achieve using mediums like wax or clay.

 

“[Rapid prototyping] offers the sculptor a different way of thinking. You’re not limited by gravity and you’re not limited by reality… You can have imagination, you don’t have to be real,” Visser said.

Full Circle celebrates this new way of creating and the artists who pioneered it. The exhibit is on display in the Fine Arts Gallery until November 9.

Students Utilize Extra Funding Source

There are several funds and grants that students can obtain to help fund creative projects, activities, events, trips, and other academic endeavors. Some of these include Community Chest, Emergency Funding, King Creativity Fund, and the McMichael Student Experience Enrichment Fund.

“Our sense is that the school’s willingness to monetarily assist motivated and eager groups such as ours shows the SU commitment to creativity and independent thinking,” Coach and Paideia professor Don Gregory said.

The McMichael fund is quickly approaching its application deadline. On November 11, applications are due for projects that meet the requirements of enrichment and diversity.

The McMichael fund is available for both co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities that encourage students to be leaders, push towards a betterment of society, and enrich the lives of the SU community as a whole.

“A wide, ever-changing, variety of student projects are funded each year including travel to conferences and/or competitions for student organizations and the hosting of an on-campus events that enhance SU’s student life,” student life advisor Derek Timourian said.

The program is supported through a gift from alumna Sue Mood McMichael in honor of her husband, William A. McMichael. Each student awarded a grant is normally eligible for up to $800 for funding for direct expenses only or up to $2,400 for a group of 3 or more for the same experience.

“If one group is showing a passion to host a tremendous event, then the reward ought to go to the individuals willing to go beyond mere learning,” Gregory said.

In 2010-2011, 15 proposals were submitted for three different deadlines. Thirteen of those 15 proposals were approved and awarded funds that totaled $15,000.

Two projects were approved after the first deadline for the present semester. Those projects included two students attending the Collegiate Leadership Network Challenge in San Antonio, which was coordinated by the National Hispanic Institute, and a delegation of 8 students representing SU’s Model UN Club at the Model Organization of American States Conference hosted by St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

“The McMichael Grant enabled our team to attend our first conference in 2009 and has been instrumental in continuing to fund our regional competition experiences as we are a two year old organization,” Model UN president Kate Hayden said.
With the help and support of the McMichael grants and other SU funding, the Model UN team has come back from competitions with four “outstanding delegate” awards and have become more integrated in the regional Model UN circuit.

One current project anticipating the deadline is Gregory’s Paideia cohort that is titled “Coping with Social Responsibility.” As seniors this year, they are looking to fund a symposium of speakers with the intention of presenting to the SU community a culmination of their studies from the past two and a half years on human trafficking.

“We are inviting to experts in the field of human trafficking and its origins to present to the overall SU community what we have studied and researched,” Gregory said.

“Our group has embraced the task of writing and submitting proposals. The energy is high, and the focus is on putting together an outstanding event for the school and local community.”

To those who meet the requirements of the grant, the money is a wonderful resource. However, there are many other projects and endeavors happening around the community that can benefit from funds that seem to be unaware they are available.

“It was in conversations with people across campus I respect very much that the resources available became a reality,” Gregory said. “We learned of the King Creativity, the D.E.C., Community Chest, among others. None of my coaching responsibilities or teaching duties has taken me into the school sponsored fund-raising. This is my first go with the McMichael.”

While the first deadline for applications is November 11, future applications will again be accepted for deadlines later this year.

Students Address Council

This week, a group of concerned students lead by junior Colin Berr gave presentations to the campus community and to the Georgetown City Council concerning the lack of public transportation in Georgetown. Berr was motivated to form the organization “S.U. Students for Public Transit” following a year spent in Germany.

“After a great study abroad experience in Germany, my eyes were really opened to the possibilities of public transit and what it can do for a community,” Berr said to the city council.

Berr and fellow speakers Grayson Edwards and Brandee Knight were joined at the council meeting by fellow members of S.U. Students for Public Transit, other students and Georgetown citizens.

The presenters outlined the ways in which public transportation would benefit the city.  Berr asserted that the economic benefits.

“According to statistics from the American Public Transit Association, or APTA, individuals in the city who switch to public transportation from automobile use can save about $819 monthly. That adds up to about $10,000 a year,” Berr said.

In addition to the economic benefits, Berr, Edwards, and Knight spoke of the ways in which public transportation can save lives, dispelled myths surrounding public transportation, and explained why they believed that Georgetown needs public transit.

The presentation to the campus and city council represents the first step in attempting to bring public transit to Georgetown. Going forward, organizers will need to cultivate continued public support and convince the council that an investment in public transportation is money well-spent.

 

Wizard World hosts Austin Comic Con: Convention Returns for Second Year, Showcases Art, Pop Culture

Austin Comic Con, hosted by Wizard World, returns to the Austin Convention Center for the second year in a row November 11 to November 13.

The name ‘Comic Con’ is often associated with San Diego Comic-Con International, the most well-known of the comic book conventions, but the Wizard World made its fair bid for popularity with Wizard World Chicago, second only to San Diego in sheer attendance numbers.

This convergence of pop culture and population brings in people from all over and showcases a variety of well-known guests, fun events, celebrity panels and booths selling comics, graphic novels, anime, merchandise, and other collectible items.

Bringing fans of all ages and interests into one convention center, the Austin Comic Con features writers, artists, actors, games, contests and photo-ops.

“Two of my best friends went to Austin Comic Con last year and they’ve gotten me really intereseted in going,” said sophomore Ashley Scott. “They had a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go with them this year! It’s going to be great!”

This year, the convention brings guests such as Hayden Pantettiere, Adam Baldwin, Kevin Sorbo, four members of the cast of “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” and many more well-known people, including Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett Jr.

Comic creators Marv Wolfman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Maguire, and others will be in attendance to meet fans, sign autographs and create sketches. Phil Ortiz, five-time Emmy winning animator, will also be on hand to “Simpsonize” people. There will also be a reunion between four of the children who starred in the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” for the movie’s 40th anniversary.

The Dealer’s Room contains many booths and tables where toys, apparel and other kinds of merchandise can be bought with either cash or credit, depending on the vendor.

The Artist Alley features different artists that have come to sell their artwork or commissions of your requested character, game or movie.

The convention encourages people to come in costume.

Information about purchasing tickets and the convention in general can be found on the Comic Con website, http://www.wizardworldcomiccon.com/home-tx.html.

SU Splash! Offers Students Opportunity to Share Passions

SU Splash! allows students to share their passions with participants from local high schools by teaching interactive classes on whatever interesting subject they can come up with. Splash! is a day-long program that aims to change perspectives, builds relationships, and lets everyone involved try something new.

“Is there something you just geek-out about? You learn everything about it and it’s just something you love. This is the opportunity to share it with people,” Splash! administrator Elizabeth Grenadier said.

The topics don’t necessarily have to be academic or even applicable to a job. Other programs have included classes like “How Pokémon Changed the World,” “Ukulele,” and “Lucid Dreaming.”

Sophomore Jacob Brown taught a class last year called “Making Sense: The Poetry of Nonsense” about a non-AP approach to analyzing and appreciating poetry.

“It was exciting putting it together,” Brown said. “It was the first time I had ever written or drafted a course plan. That was definitely a good experience for me. In general it was a really satisfying thing, having put together a class, having it run and having students be interested in the things you’re interested in.”

Splash! programs exist at universities all over the nation, including MIT, Yale and University of Chicago, but it was only last year that sophomore Kavita Singh got together with Grenadier and Brown to bring a similar program to Southwestern.

“Last year we had no budget, as in we had no money. [Singh] actually brought up the idea of having a Splash! at the end of January. We had a program by April, so that’s four months to establish relationships with high schools, to recruit teachers from [Southwestern], and to organize how we were even going to have this day,” said Grenadier.

For the first SU Splash, Singh, Grenadier and Brown only recruited from Georgetown High School. Ultimately, 20 students showed up.

For the upcoming program in February, they hope to have 100 high school students attend by recruiting from five high schools in Georgetown and Round Rock.

They have also received a King’s Creativity Grant for $1,500 in order to create a more cohesive, full-day program, rather than just offering a small collection of sporadic classes. All they need now are the people to make it run.

“This is as big a time commitment as you want it to be,” Singh said. “A class doesn’t take a terribly large amount of time to teach, but even if you just wanted to come over for 30 minutes and meet some high school students, check them in, and hand them their Splash schedules, that’s great.”

Teachers have until the end of the term to register their classes. Volunteers are welcome any time.

“If you’re unsure about teaching this year and you want to see what it’s all about, come and volunteer. You’ll get to see the day, maybe sit in on a class, and next year maybe work up the courage to put yourself out there and teach that thing that you love,” Singh said.

For more information about SU Splash! visit susplash.learningu.org, come to one of the administrator meetings held every Thursday at 5 p.m. on the second floor of Prothro or email Kavita Singh at southwesternsplash@gmail.com.

Dave Eggers

When Dave Eggers co-founded 826 Valencia, a tutoring center in San Francisco, he alsohelped to start a business, one specializing in goods fit for Captain Reuter: a pirate supply store.

The honored guest for this years The Writer’s Voice, Eggers referenced this personal connection as he began his address to SU Pirates and community members.

An author, screenwriter and founder and editor of the independent publishing house

McSweeney’s, Eggers has helped to open 826 additional writing centers similar to 826 Valencia (minus the pirate theme). In addition to tutoring services, the centers offer youth the chance to engage in creative writing; even publishing collections of student work in book form.

For Eggers, writing, reading, and painting was an escape from the tragedy and difficulties he faced as an adolescent.

“For a couple of years there I was going through some rough times, full of angst, alienated from everything and everyone, I was really having a hard go of it through adolescence, and I found validation in [English and painting],” Eggers said.

 

Eggers’ love of storytelling was augmented by his high school English teacher with whom he still works with to this day.

“I wanted to write about persuading folks to take a bicycle trip to the inner mantle of the earth, after all it was downhill!” Eggers said. “I was kind of a prankster. I was looking for a reaction and found a teacher who took us all seriously.”

Eggers emphasizes the value of patience and understanding when working with students in their writing at his non-profit tutoring center 826 Valencia.

“You cast your net over a wider group of students,” Eggers said. “I tell them ‘let’s get it out on the paper, don’t self censor, earn their trust…and you become a part of them forever.”

What happens when the students get writer’s block?

“The tutor will just chat, 10, 20 minutes, sometimes an hour. Kids are then encouraged to write about subjects they are passionate about. It is all part of trust and validation.”

During the Writer’s Voice presentation Eggers discussed the difficulties of composing a creative nonfiction story like “Zeitoun”, his most recent publication that chronicles the experiences of a Muslim family during destruction and injustice-ridden aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

“The writing was exceedingly slow,” Eggers said. “I don’t think I could write more than two or three sentences at a time without calling someone for confirmation.”

Eggers also commented that authors cannot get too bogged down in the experience of writing this type of story, and encouraged writers to step back and capture the experience from the character’s point of view.

“I don’t think the author sees that himself,” Eggers said. If you get caught up in your own patterns and theories, then you lose the art of it I think. So much of it has to be unconscious.”

Throughout his presentation, Eggers championed the transformative power of writing.

“[Reading can] drive people to action…drive people to change,” Eggers said. “There is no better democratic means of empowerment than the written word.”

Eggers also emphasized the capability and responsibility writer’s have to encourage sympathy and inspire change.

“If we want to understand, we have to read. We have to tell stories,” Eggers said. “[There is] no better way to engender empathy, to understand, to experiences [others’] experiences…to live in their skin, to walk in their shoes…that tickles your ‘justice bone’, that unites our minds…than to read.”

After discussing the merits of reading and writing and the value of storytelling in human society, Eggers took a few minutes to share some of his less than serious compositions, including, to the delight of the audience, a series of letters to prominent CEO’s from “a dog named Steve”.

“I am allergic, actually, so we can’t own a dog,” Eggers said. “It is my most joyous writing, this cart wheeling downhill kind of experience, where I associate wind, speed, joy and abandon. Dogs are noble and ridiculous. When I am inside this voice with a different set of rules, different observations can be made, and it is totally free.”

Following the rendition of “letters from Steve”, Eggers talked about his enthusiasm for writing stories and insisted that anyone really can write anything.

“You never know when you’re going to find the most joy, the most passion in writing,” Eggers said.

Students had many opportunities to direct questions to Eggers in various classes throughout the week and during a luncheon held following the Writer’s Voice event. Most students had nothing but appreciation, enthusiasm, and praise for Eggers message.

“Eggers is a perfect fit for Southwestern,” sophomore Jacob Brown said. “He not only stands for lifelong learning in his range of interests…but he’s also dedicated to civic duty- changing the world for the better.”

THE CHALLENGE

THE CHALLENGE, an event sponsored by Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge (SEAK), will take place at 5:30 p.m. on the mall today.

“The purpose of the event is to raise awareness around issues related to composting andrecycling,” sophomore Joey Kyle said.

THE CHALLENGE is a tag competition in which players dress as recyclable objects andtaggers attempt to sort them into correct compostable and recyclable categories.

Prizes including gift cards and concert tickets will be awarded to the winners. SEAK will also hand out environmental literature.

Yesterday, SEAK hosted a drum circle to advertise the event in the Commons and hand out environmental fortunes.

SEAK’s ultimate purpose for this year is to get bottled water off campus and contribute to the University’s sustainability.

“In the upcoming months there will be a revamping of past compost systems and our hopes are that people will be educated enough to have a self-sustained compost system,” Kyle said.

Big Red: University Celebrates Red Mccombs at Book Signing

“Big Red” for sale and Big Red soda for free! On Oct. 25, Red McCombs ’49 came to campus to autograph his most recent book “Big Red: Memoirs of a Texas Entrepreneur and Philanthropist” and Big Red soda was given out for free to accompany the book signing.

“He’s had an interesting life and is an interesting person. He’s definitely had a successful career,” a faculty member said.

This event took place in the Bishop’s Lounge of the McCombs Campus Center which was named after McCombs and his wife, Charline.

 

The event also included live music performed by Eric Hanke ’01, with free salsa and chips available to attendees.

Students took this opportunity to attend the signing and to meet with McCombs.

“I came because I wanted to buy the book and get it autographed to give to my dad for Christmas,” senior Kristyna Uhles said. “I might give it to him early and not wait until Christmas, I get really excited about giving gifts and I want to give the book to him.”

In addition to students, individuals from the Georgetown community and groups from various cities across Texas came to campus to meet McCombs and get his autograph.

“My husband and I drove from Marble Falls to come see Mr. McCombs,” an attendee said. “I was a student at Southwestern in the ‘70s and I appreciate that he’s helped this school continue to be a success.”

The book depicts McCombs’ beginnings in the town of Spur, Texas and recalls his successful business ventures and generous contributions to various organizations. He began selling peanuts at the age of ten and then steadily grew into financial success through car sales.

After attending Southwestern and then UT Austin, McCombs built multiple businesses that dealt with a great variety of goods and services.

His various businesses included cattle, oil and gas, insurance, horse racing, films, real estate, and professional sports.

He co-founded Clear Channel Communications and at two different times owned the San Antonio Spurs, as well as other professional sport teams.

With his success also came great benevolence. McCombs and his wife have given their financial support, adding up to over 8 million dollars, to Southwestern.

Their generosity has also been extended to UT Austin and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“I work at Creative Services and we all wanted to come to

support Red McCombs and show him our appreciation,” senior Rebecca Bennett said.

He and his wife met at Southwestern and were married in 1950.

He has served on the Southwestern’s Board of Trustees, was Chair of the Board twice, and served as an honorary chair of Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign. Mrs. McCombs was an inaugural member of the Board of Visitors.

The university has previously recognized their contributions with the President’s Philanthropy Award in 2006, honorary doctorates, and the SU Medal.

SUSTAIN: ‘Students for Sustained CivicEngagement’

When David Boutte transferred here from New York City, he brought his work experience andorganizational skills with him. In his first few weeks on campus, he set out to bring them to otherstudents by founding an organization called SUSTAIN: ‘Students for Sustained Civic Engagement.’

The group is working to help match students with internships and career opportunities, in localand national partnerships that would last and benefit both parties.“We realized that, more than a lack of opportunities, there was a connection block betweenstudents and the realization of those opportunities,” Boutte said. “The group will be tabling inNovember to get information from students and hopefully through first year seminars to find out whatsort of internships people are looking for, and create a working database, so that Southwestern’s officesof Civic Engagement and Career Services will have a communicating extension.”

Boutte was inspired by a project he had special interest in, but in discussion with the Office ofCivic Engagement realized the project could take over five years. It then developed into somethingbroader.

“I volunteer in Austin for “The Challenger”, which the homeless write and sell in lieu ofbegging, so the homeless community in Georgetown was my first interest,” Boutte said. “I realized thatmore help in Williamson County would enable long-term programs to really impact the lives of thesepeople, so with the Office of Civic Engagement I developed ideas about maintaining groups that couldwork on sustainable projects like this. Slowly, we realized that I had to start with the gap betweenstudents and projects at Southwestern rather than try to begin with large off-campus issues.”

SUSTAIN emphasizes the importance of commitment to civic engagement, rather than themore common short-term internships students often consider.

“The name of the group means, if you’re involved, you’re committing to making a sustainableeffort, a difference that will last,” Boutte said. “It doesn’t matter what kind- internship, work,volunteering- it means making an investment in civic engagement, both for yourself and forSouthwestern. Let’s say you volunteer with a non-profit organization for the university. When youleave, if you’re in SUSTAIN, the Southwestern presence there does not disappear. We can help enableyou to train someone to take your place, and sustain the school’s positive influence there.”

The organization, still in its first stages, aims to evolve into a business model that connectsstudents to the kinds of opportunities that they want.

“We hope to find ways to fund students who want to intern but need a paying job,” Bouttesaid. “If we get the funds we need, this type of aid could really benefit the Southwestern student body.We’re making a database of all students to help connect them to non-profit organizations andbusinesses who could be more engaged with Southwestern.”

The organization met with Mel Pendland, president of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, last Friday to discuss ways to make chamber members aware of SUSTAIN’s motivations and ideals.

The Big Event is another way SUSTAIN will try to connect students to local work. On March 23, the week after Spring Break, the group’s one and only event of the year is hoped to turn out a large part of the community to introduce the ‘Be Southwestern’ campaign, a project of the Office of Gift Management under Rob Bacchus.

“Although we expect some of our programs to develop and change over time, The Big Event is our commitment this school year. We are trying to bring in businesses, churches, and other groups tothis service day with the goal of at least 300 students, staff and faculty,” Boutte said. “Our mostimportant aim is creating a sense of community between residents, students and Georgetownbusinesses and organizations. We want everyone to Be Southwestern.”

Along with inter-community connections, Boutte emphasized the differences between internships and employment.“Long-term experience teaches you skills and responsibilities that you just don’t get from a short-term internship,” Boutte said. “It allows you to build up on those skills and gain that responsibility, rather than starting at the bottom as an intern again after a semester of school.Internships, over long periods of time, can turn into lasting jobs that many other students won’t haveaccess to. We want students to make that commitment, so they can understand what it means to do ajob well. It also looks great on both academic and career resumes.”

The Big Event was an idea that started with attempts to connect school and community at TexasA&M University. Their efforts evolved into a nationwide day of service. This is Southwestern’s firsttime participating.Boutte is working with SUSTAIN’s Director of Operations Aaron Jimenez and Student LiaisonMarianne Lynch to coordinate the function with other student organizations.

“We will send out an e-mail soon to create committees and sub-committees focused onorganizing the Big Event,” Boutte said. “Not only are we open to students seeking internships, but weare looking for officers, members and help of any kind- especially with this huge program. We arecreating a great opportunity for Southwestern to maintain a presence with the organizations andbusinesses that students are involved in.”

The Big Event has happened at other schools for the past 30 years now, but Boutte is starting itoff differently here.

“We want more businesses to accept Pirate cards, to enable more local internships and to fundthose opportunities. ‘Be Southwestern’ was mega-launched at Homecoming last weekend,” Bouttesaid. “SUSTAIN is working with that campaign. We want to reinforce the idea and establish morelasting relations between Southwestern students and the community.”

The Writer’s Voice Presents: A Night With Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers.Courtesy Google Images.

Each academic year, Southwestern University hosts a prominent guest for the Writer’s Voice lecture series. This year’s special guest will be novelist Dave Eggers. Eggers’ public lecture on campus
will take place the evening of Nov. 1 in the Alma Thomas Theater. After the lecture he will be available to sign books and to talk to attendees. Eggers will also meet with certain classes, attend a
lunch with students, and be interviewed by a student.

A copy of all of Eggers’ books are available in the library’s Literary Societies Alcove. Eggers’ most recent book, “Zeitoun”, is based on a true story of a family caught between the disasters
of the war on terrorism and Hurricane Katrina.

“Anyone who cares about America, where it is going and where it almost went… will want to read this
thrilling, heartbreaking, wonderful book,” The “Chicago Sun-Times” said.

“What is the What” is an additional acclaimed work of Eggers.

“I will not wait to love as best as I can. We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait
to love,” Dave Eggers said in “What is the What”.

With an impressive and extensive resume, Eggers is an author of six books, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a founder and editor of an independent publishing house, a co-founder of a nonprofit
writing and tutoring center for youth, and a screen writer for the movies “Away We Go” and “Where the Wild Things Are”.

Eggers is also a passionate activist. He established 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth. Beginning in San Francisco where Eggers now lives, 826 Valencia has
expanded to communities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York City.

He also developed a website, ScholarMatch.org, for scholarship donations to students who are in need of financial assistance. For his extensive efforts in education, Eggers was awarded the TED Prize in 2008.

Clearly there are many reasons why Dave Eggers was chosen to be this year’s Writers Voice and many reasons why students should take advantage of this opportunity.

Horse Skull Statue

By this point in the year most people have probably noticed the rather unusual statue sitting between the library and the FAB: A horse’s skull atop a giant grey slab, staring with empty eyes out at passersby. “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” is artist James Accord’s comment on human’s relationship with nuclear technology. The statue was bought by SU alum Joey King in 2000 from its previous owner, writer Fred Moody, and donated to Southwestern several years ago, though it was finally moved from Seattle to its new resting place last summer after Accord’s death in January.

The statue, which took Accord over ten years to make, is a single one-ton piece of granite that was carved without the use of power tools. Initially he wished to place nuclear waste inside the “monstrance,” and as such became the first and only private individual to ever get a license for handling nuclear material. However, he was unable to actually get any nuclear material, so he resorted to grinding up Fiesta Ware pottery to get the uranium in its glaze.

The name of the piece comes from Catholicism, where a monstrance is the container in which the Eucharist is held between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In “Grey Horse”, the holy substance is the nuclear waste, and its location is symbolic of the importance society places on such material in the “nuclear age.”

As the newest member of the Southwestern sculpture collection, “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” is not just an unusual eye-catcher; it is also a question over what society chooses to put value in, and what that consequences of those decisions will be.

University Revises Budget: Restructuring Aimes for Sustainability

Image Curtesy Google Images.

The budget plan outlined by President Schrum and the Board of Trustees Executive
Committee has been a wide source of controversy over the past few weeks, as many people have
begun to question whether some suggested measures will affect many of Southwestern’s current
programs, students, and faculty.

Over the coming years, the suggested changes include increasing the student to faculty
ratio from 10:1 to 13:1, building a new Science Center which will cost $24 million, merging the
Smith Library Center with the Information Technology Services to save a projected $250,000,
cutting retirement benefits from the current level of $30 million, and, most strikingly, laying off
and restructuring jobs which will affect 37 staff positions.

Although the strain the economic downturn places on the university’s ability to provide
its services is significant, many of the new changes being suggested could be harmful to
Southwestern’s low classroom size, nationally recognized library, and retired and current faculty
and staff. Other alternatives should therefore be considered before taking such drastic steps.
While these are certainly tough decisions and can be difficult both to avoid and to
implement, there are also various other areas, which could potentially save money. During recent
years, a total of $500,000 has been spent on studies regarding whether Southwestern should have
a football team or if Southwestern should change its name. Further, after benefits, President Jake
Schrum’s salary is nearly $600,000. Adjusting these two figures could at least help pay for the
$2.8 million budget shortfall of the university this year, which would lessen the need to layoff
and jeopardize so many staff positions.

Southwestern also has a $250 million endowment currently, which is very large for a
university of its size. Spending a small portion of this would alleviate the burden felt both by
students paying tuition and by many staff workers worried about whether they will be able to
keep a job.

The issue of combating tough economic conditions with layoffs is also not specific to
Southwestern, as it is happening to universities across the country. However, higher education’s
inability to contain costs in a meaningful way has led many people to realistically suggest that
universities should begin to spend some of their own resources before putting the burden on staff
and students by raising tuition and using layoffs.

The best course of action is to consider this point of view not as running against the
university but for it, and as we follow this issue into the future, we must always keep in mind the
larger goal of making our system more liable, effective, dynamic, and less dependent on student
tuition and benefit cuts.