Hear ye! Admin meet at town hall meeting
By Sara Marett
Western's senior administration provided a sneak preview of what to expect at today's meeting with the London community in a open town hall forum yesterday.
The theme of the meeting was "Pride and Partnership" and highlighted Western's accomplishments and goals for the up-coming year. This morning at the London Convention Centre, the administration will bring these announcements to the community in hopes to improve the "town and gown" relationship.
Western President Paul Davenport began the meeting by emphasizing the importance of a healthy relationship with the London community. He outlined areas where the university and the community had worked together to achieve a significant goal, such as winning the bid to host the 2001 Canada Summer Games and the recently opened Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute.
He informed the audience of areas where Western has most recently been proud, such as increased student enrollment, faculty awards, research grants and the staff's role at the university in the face of many budget cuts.
"It seems we are on a treadmill where we have more work and fewer people to do it, but the work still gets done," he said.
It is a period of great uncertainty, however, as we are not sure what kind of grants we will get from the provincial government, what kind of freedom we will have with tuition levels and there is not yet word on an improved income contingent loan repayment plan for students, Davenport added.
The president then opened the floor to Western's VP-academic Greg Moran to elaborate on the plans for the university's operating budget. Moran said the best bet for anticipating what kind of grant the government would be providing the university would be to assume there would be no change from previous years. "There are no obvious signs of substantial increases or decreases," he said.
The administration asked all units to model a three-per-cent cut to the budget for the coming year, but the outcome could be something quite different than this. "We cannot offer you the comfort of knowing the troubles are over," he said.
Moran said one the of administration's top priorities for this year is to improve their relationship with the faculty association. Our faculty is the core of everything we do at this university, Moran said.
VP-administration Peter Mercer addressed a question from third-year history/political science student Rob Walker concerning removing upper-year students from residence and if this would be a temporary or long term change.
Mercer explained the administration must follow through with their promise to guarantee a place in residence for all first-year students next year. He referred to the current plans to build a new residence by 1999, but said it will take awhile for this to materialize.