Campus / News / Student Senate / February 4, 2009

State of the College Address, changes to meal plan and college communication

At the last senate meeting, President Taylor gave his State of the College address, touching on recent honor’s project successes, changes in academic policy, sustainability on campus, and how the economic downturn has affected the endowment.

Taylor started off with three goals for the college: nurturing academic excellence, strengthening institutional confidence, and encouraging financial impregnability.

The president remarked on the quality of the staff and faculty for supporting his first goal, and creating an “exciting academic program.” Taylor specifically cited the new courses that were offered winter term, as well as student-initiated projects. “Academic excellence is robust and doing well at Knox,” he said.

Taylor praised the sustainability practices already in place, such as the Free Store, plans to fix heating pipe insulation, and the “three Rs.” He also wants the faculty “to consider ways to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, in addition to environmental studies.”

Taylor also mentioned plans to build an improved recycling center on campus, however this plan is only an idea, and relies on outside financial support. Taylor explained that part of the Federal Economic Recovery Program, which has passed the Senate and is now in the House of Representatives, grants money to colleges and universities. Taylor has asked for $100,000 to build the recycling center. Additionally, he asked for $15,000,000 to renovate Alumni Hall.

Although Knox is “facing down a recession that had an affect on the endowment,” said Taylor, the careful way in which the college manages its spending rate and budget support means the spending “is going to decline only modestly.” The downturn means there will be “a freeze on new staff positions…and all the projects that haven’t been started yet,” including Wallace Lounge and the new radio station. “The recession brings challenges, but we’ve had challenges,” said Taylor, who plans to “focus on the core part of the enterprise; that is the academic program.”

A proposal passed unanimously in Student Senate to combine guest meals with regular meals in the dining services plan — meaning if implemented students can now use however many meals necessary for themselves and guests without distinction.

“The main thing is you can do what you want with the meals you bought,” explained the Dining Services Committee, adding that it would cut down on the number of meals left unused.

Jenn Snider of the Campus Life Office will introduce new software to allow for more efficient communication on campus. OrgSync, developed for colleges and universities, is “an online organizational management system,” said Snider, meant to streamline communications between offices, students, and student organizations. “It keeps track of everything,” she said, and is only viewable by the Knox community.

The online program, as some senators understood it, is like a formal Facebook meant for managing one’s academic life, rather than social life. The site hosts a page available for each office or organization, such as the Campus Life Office or Student Senate. Each page features a newsfeed, a wall, a calendar, discussion groups, and programs to do a poll. It also allows “profiles of everyone, in case someone in your senate district want to know who you are,” said Snider. You can even link to Facebook, “tying all of your worlds together,” she said.

The program will be implemented February 14th, beginning with the page for the Campus Life Office, followed by a page for Union Board and Senate. The program is flexible, and students can decide in what ways to use it. “It’s a resource for you guys, it can grow in whatever way you want it to,” said Snider.

The program costs $5,500 to initiate, with a $3,500 annual renewal fee. Staff from the company will be coming in for a two-day training session so club leaders can learn to manage their sites.

The Finance Committee recommended $1,700 go to Harambee for their concert February 13th, and $1,000 for Knox Republicans for their conference in Washington DC. The remaining after the allocations is $19,830.

Klayr Valentine-Fossum

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