President Joel Seligman held his second town hall style meeting on Tuesday where he addressed four major issues – Legionnaires’ Disease, the settlement of the Fair Labor Standards Act, faculty diversity and the university’s budget.
“I’ve never worked harder in my life since I got here and I’ve never enjoyed working more,” Seligman said to the crowd of approximately 50 people including Dean of Students Jody Asbury, Vice President and General Secretary Paul Burgett, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Monica Smalls and about 40 students.
In terms of Legionnaires’ Disease, Seligman commended the leadership exhibited at URMC in response to the outbreak.
“I’m not going to pretend that anyone is happy in this situation, but I am impressed with the leadership at URMC,” Seligman said. “This is quite a serious situation that we now believe we have under control. There is no possible risk to anyone on the River Campus.”
Seligman addressed UR’s settlement with hourly employees over violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act that was announced Feb. 16.
“UR currently employs over 17,000 and of these 8,000 are paid hourly and must be given breaks for lunch or be compensated,” Seligman said. “We are not trying to take away anyone’s lunch.” Seligman noted that this sheds light on two major issues – UR must be in full compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and that, more importantly, since the university is subject to a plethora of laws there must be a review of our compliance and auditing systems.
“I am going to ask for an outside risk assessment review and find out if we are missing things,” Seligman said. “I don’t like spending money on this, but this is a self-inflicted wound.”
Seligman then moved on to addressing the diversity of the faculty and highlighted a four-part approach to diversifying including an annual published report on faculty diversity and creating a welcoming environment where the university will retain the highest caliber faculty members.
“I emphasized the issue of faculty diversity before I arrived here,” Seligman said. “Now I am involved in an effort to hire and retain diverse personnel. The most difficult diversity issues at a university involve the faculty. In the last few months a group has visited Syracuse University and Columbia University and will present a report [on faculty diversity] to the Board of Trustees in May.”
Before the question and answer portion of the meeting Seligman showed a PowerPoint slideshow about the university’s budgets and the budgetary goals of the future. The entire university has a $1.7 billion budget, with $138 million in the “core budget” for The College’s programming. Seligman broke down The College’s budget and expenditures.
He also highlighted the budget factors – high energy costs, information technology and maintaining and upgrading facilities – and confirmed that tuition for 2006-07 will be announced in March.
In the question and answer session, Seligman addressed questions about sustainability, the Greek system, dining services and varsity sports budgeting, among other issues.
Students and faculty have expressed their appreciation and enthusiasm for the time Seligman has taken to get to know the student body and the concerns of the UR campus as a whole.
“We are so grateful that he is taking time out to meet with students and for his willingness to answer questions,” Asbury said.
However, many people have expressed their disappointment in the low turnout at these events.
“This is an amazing opportunity that Seligman is giving the community,” Smalls said. “I am very disappointed that more students do not come to these events and I encourage more students to get to know Seligman.”
Students in the audience had the opportunity at the end of the event to ask Seligman questions and to address their concerns.
“I think Seligman has a lot of important things to say about issues that involve everyone on campus,” sophomore Jen Balaban said. “He deserves a better turnout.”Paret can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.