President’s cabinet accounts for student requests in budget plans

Cables and screws used to keep windows of women dorms closed and sealed.

By Rachel Swann

New windows and bathrooms in dorms, recycling on campus, bike racks and ice machines are among the improvements Trevecca students want on campus.

According to a survey conducted by student development, students on campus have lots of ideas for how administrators could spend the estimated $500,000 they have to spend in the annual special requests budget.

Every year Trevecca administrators get more requests for new faculty, building repairs, and athletic equipment than they have money to pay for in the university’s special requests budget.

For example, last year administrators received $65 million worth of requests to be met by the special requests budget.

Items such as a fine arts building, a parking garage and new lights for the baseball diamond are among the items that have been on the list for years.

As part of the annual budgeting process, administrators, faculty and staff submit wish lists for things their own annual department budgets can’t afford.

This year, Heather Bryant, women’s apartment resident director (RD) and coordinator for residential life, wanted to be sure that students’ were also given a chance to list their requests for improving campus.

Last fall, students could participate in a survey about everything from how well their residence assistants (RA) perform to what building improvements on campus would make their college experience better.

Bryant created the survey and distributed it to students via email in November 2009. The goal of the survey was for students to assess the student life of Trevecca.

They were asked to rate their RDs, RAs, quality of campus events, and the conditions of student housing.

After a few weeks of giving students an opportunity to complete the survey, Bryant compiled the results and presented them to Steve Harris, associate provost and dean of student development and member of the cabinet.

The list of priorities she took to Harris was based on 125 anonymously completed surveys.

Bryant said the small number does not necessarily give an accurate account for how students feel about the questions asked, but the results do help give her and the other members of student development an idea of what students want.

The president’s cabinet is still deciding on how to distribute the special projects money for the 2010-2011 school year.  The special projects budget is separate from the multi-million dollar overall budget for the university. It is to help meet the needs of all campus departments when their needs go beyond their yearly spending allowances.

“We pick what will have the biggest impact (on the school),” Harris said.

In the past, for example, the special requests budget allotments were made for hiring new staff and faculty to strengthen departments and programs.

But the survey will certainly be taken into consideration as they make decisions, he said.

“We care about what students need are and want to resolve some of them…My goal is to advocate on behalf of the students,” Bryant said.

The president’s cabinet took a look at the results and plans to work some of the wanted changes into next year’s budget plan. However, the specifics are still undecided, Harris explained.

Some things, like the need for window replacement in the women’s dorms, have been known to the cabinet for some time, but the cost has prevented them from getting them replaced in the past, Harris said.

“To replace the windows in the girl’s dorms will cost about $240,000,” Harris said, “That is cheaper than I thought.”

Other items on Bryant’s list were news to the members of cabinet.

For instance, they were not aware of the mysterious odor in Georgia Hall. Getting rid of the odor is something that can be done soon and will likely not have to be paid for out of the special requests budget.

After the seven members if the president’s cabinet finalizes the budget plan for next year the board of trustees finance committee must approve it. This meeting is planned for March.

What Students Want

-Replace windows in residence halls

-Remodel bathrooms in residence halls

-Change wall color of dorm rooms to something besides white

-Improve A/C and heaters in apartments

-Better vending options for residence halls

*listed in random order

*source: compiled list from survey results by Heather Bryant, RD and coordinator for residential life

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