Wednesday, September 26, 2007

town hall meeting

i went to my first "town hall meeting" today. it's mica's way of giving students an opportunity to learn about various initiatives on campus directly from the people in charge, and an opportunity to drill them with any burning questions or concerns. it takes place in falvey hall about 3 times a year. president fred lazarus, provost ray allen, and vice president dusty porter are the stars of the show... they sit on stage at a table complete with pressed tablecloth, microphones, and water bottles (which really should have been the mica water bottles parkhurst has now...) president lazarus said that he felt like he was on "meet the press." (i love him... he's got such a real, honest outlook on things. and it doesn't hurt that he always wears a bow tie and has a sense of humor.) the three of them truly are here to serve the students. they spend most of the day in an office, so it's obvious that they feed off of student interaction and opinion. the whole forum is as much for them as it is for however many people show up. (which was about 25 today.)

the town hall concept is a simple idea, still in the growing stages (2 years old.) i can't see why more people don't go. i didn't come with a hidden sustainability agenda or complaint about the shuttle services, but it felt good to just sit and listen to all of the things that are going on around me at mica. i took four pages, front and back, of notes. (but i do write pretty big...)

some issues on the docket: tuition increase, enrollment growth impacting space, availability of courses, new faculty, the diversity initiative, a new comprehensive mica website, spirituality at mica, sustainability of the new gateway building, improvements with the bank building, the role of the board of trustees, identifying core values on campus, and mica's place as a leading visual arts institution in the national dialogue.

i learned so much. & everything seemed positive. really moving in a good direction. is there room for improvement? yes. of course. but they recognize that here and are always looking for the next big things. it's good to know more about the big picture here. it gives you such a reassurance, and sense of ownership. if you want to change things... go for it. put things in motion.

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