Elena Sorrentino Editor-in-Chief
Wednesday, March 6, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the first President’s Breakfast of the semester. This event serves as an environment where student leaders can become informed and give feedback on the newest developments facing Eastern’s community. These reports are given directly by President Nunez and other important administrators, including the interim provost, William Salka; Ken Delisa, Vice President of Institutional Advancement; Michelle Delaney, Interim Dean of Students; Carmen Cid, Dean of Arts & Sciences; Elizabeth Scott, Interim Dean of Education and Professional Studies; Jim Howarth, Vice President for Finance and Administration; and Gary Bozylinsky, Chief Information Officer.
The first matter that President Nunez addressed was the ongoing search for several administrative positions. These positions include the Dean of Students and the Provost. Both of these searches have included open interviews that students have been able to attend and provide feedback on. The hiring processes are being led by committees that will then report back to Walter Diaz and President Nunez, respectively, to make the final decisions. It is expected that the final candidates will be chosen in time for them to begin on July 1. Another position that is being filled is a new Gallery Director for the Fine Arts building—a position that has been empty since the closing of Shafer Hall in 2016.
Other important topics discussed included the financial plan for the upcoming 2019 – 2020 fiscal year. Tuition and fees will be raised once again, as Eastern’s operation costs will be increasing dramatically. The expense of running soon-to-be opened Goddard and Shafer is expected to add approximately a quarter million dollars to this budget alone. Additionally, this is the first year of state-mandated salary increases for all union members. Due to continual annual decreases in state-allocated funding during the Malloy administration, this is the first year in many that Eastern has been flat-funded as opposed to cut in funding by the state. However, due to higher than normal increases in operating costs, Eastern still faces a disproportion between expected costs and incoming capital. Even with the increased monetary contributions from students, it is likely that Eastern will have a deficit. In the wake of rising tuition, Eastern’s administration is working to formulate a definitive plan for the continued improvement of the campus and its community. The goal of this action is pursuing ways to enhance the value of an Eastern degree.
The final motion covered by President Nunez was the pursuit of Open Educational Resources. There are many online educational tools that can be used by professors and classes at little or no cost to the students. Some of these resources include free digital textbooks that are of similar quality to traditionally used materials. Additionally, some institutions are implementing courses classified as NOLO, which are no or low-cost options. Any class marked as NOLO would indicate that its materials would cost less than $45 for the entire semester. Whether or not this or something similar will be implemented at Eastern is still up in the air.
Following President Nunez’s address, SGA contributed their achievements and intentions for the year. According to SGA, so far this semester their events have been extremely successful. These have included their Spirit Day, Basketball Fan Bus, and Love Your Neighbor, which had over 300 people in attendance. They also shared that they had updated their constitution — anybody that wants access to the revisions can email them. Future events include: the LEAP conference, which will be held on April 5, and the next President’s Breakfast that will be held on April 10.