After walking with his wife through the vacant President”s House on South University Avenue twice this weekend, interim President B. Joseph White said he knew the University would make it through the upcoming period of economic constraints.
“When you walk through the house and read the University history, and ask, well can we get through this period well and wisely, the answer is yes,” White said yesterday at the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs weekly meeting.
To avoid tuition hikes, White said officials need to find an intersection between what the University needs to do to avoid financial problems and the responsibility of the University to keep tuition reasonable and the budget low.
“We”re not going to get any help from the state this year, and the other major source of revenue is tuition,” White said, emphasizing that faculty and staff have a responsibility to maintain academic excellence, while lessening the burden on students.
“Clearly, the next few years are going to be the hardest in a decade,” White said. “I don”t think we can simply resolve the state budget by raising tuition.”
Despite financial constraints, White said he hopes to make some significant changes.
“My philosophy is to accomplish something more than the minimum,” he said.
“Is it possible that we could together identify probably one or two issues that are consequential and might we set a goal of making some changes?” White asked SACUA members.
SACUA Vice Chair and Dental Prof. Jack Gobetti said, “I have never yet been able to sit down and speak with the regents. Major issues, like the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics, seemed like they were rushed through. It would be much better if we have a meeting with (White) and the regents.”
White said that child care and tuition assistance also top his list of priorities.
“Child care can make or ruin a person”s professional life,” he added. “I never underestimate the extent to which the things in a person”s work life affect them.”
White said he also wants to work to increase the quality of existing buildings and programs, rather than focusing on new projects, like the need to refurbish the “1950 vintage public health labs.”
But before White and SACUA members began to discuss these objectives, Medical Prof. Charlie Koopman wanted to know if White intended to apply for the permanent presidential post.
“Have you decided if it will only be six months?” Koopman asked.
White replied, “My first obligation is to talk to the regents about this matter and then proceed from there.”