Programs discussed; Long looks to future

Story by Kyle Davis

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Baker University administrators, faculty and staff braved the walk in single-digit temperatures Tuesday to Rice Auditorium to hear University President Pat Long deliver the annual State of the University address.

Much like how the cold and snowy winter will break free into spring, Long and members of the university are looking to the future of Baker, with the hope of continuing to break out of the cold financial state the university and the economy were in.

“We’ve come a long way, and I think we’re just right at the edge of us pulling out and doing some great things here,” Long said.

Long said the university has a small measure of security, as Baker has not seen much new revenue come in. Long stressed being cautious, but not losing advancement.

“We will continue to maintain our cost and expenditure, but we will not be standing still,” she said.

Much of Long’s address was spent discussing new ideas and programs to advance the university through the Baker 2012 and Beyond strategic planning initiative and to make Baker what Long calls a “first-choice institution.”

“We have made tremendous financial strides as a university, and it has taken everyone together, as Dr. Long said, to make that happen,” Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl said. “I think that, at this point and time, we know that we must be vigilant. That we must be very careful with our expenditures, and so, as (Long) said, the highest priority is student programming, you know, areas of growth.”

Nine micro grants, worth $500 each, have been approved, with the projects representing Baker’s mission. The next seven will be for ideas and proposals to transform Baker.

Other ideas mentioned were the possibility of a full-time Master of Business Administration program on the Baldwin City campus, as well as the plans for renovations to Denious Hall and the possibilities of placing security cameras outside  residence halls and other offices.

Long also announced a proposal for a two-percent increase on current salaries for the 2011-2012 budget, which will be brought to the Baker University Board of Trustees Friday.

One way for the university to receive more money is through tuition dollars, which comes from bringing new students to campus.

Mark Bandré, vice president for enrollment management and student development, said Baker 2012 and Beyond gives Baker a strategic plan for how it is going to get more students and what programs can be put into place, or which are not being utilized properly.

“That is the whole goal, is just how to make the place more fiscally stable,” Bandré said. “Part of that stability is maximizing tuition revenue as well.”

Long ended the address by saying human resources has been the university’s No. 1 priority and praised the faculty and staff for working with what they have.

“I think people have done such an incredible job of being realistic and trying to hold the line one more year on what they need in terms of people,” Long said.