At a town hall meeting on Tuesday, UR President Joel Seligman addressed questions and concerns relating to the University, including the aftermath of the recession and the University’s strategic plans. Seligman emphasized that UR is cautiously looking toward the future as the recession is winding down.
‘Last year was a year for the history books, in the sense that we went through the most significant economic emergency in the post-World War II period,” Seligman said. ‘Looking into the future and trying to do financial modeling for next year, we’re doing a best-case/worst-case scenario, best case being that there may be a financial bounce-back year because the decline was so significant, and worst case being that bad times are going to last longer.”
According to Seligman, most parts of the University are supported by four financial sources: tuition, sponsored research, endowment payout and new gifts. This past year, the University increased financial aid significantly due to rising financial needs of the applicants. Seligman noted that the increase should continue for a while.
He added that the University reduced the annual rate of tuition increase in order to better match the level of the inflation rate. Although the endowment payout declined last year, it was a successful year for sponsored research, which rose significantly.
As the global economy is beginning to stabilize, Seligman is planning for the future expansion of the University. He shared some of his plans for the near future with those in attendance.
‘This is going to be a year of revitalizing implementation of our strategic plans,” Seligman said. ‘I want to stress this year the themes of diversity and inclusiveness and the themes of community building.”
To advance these longterm goals, Seligman discussed two potential college town plans that may fully develop in the future.
However, he warned students that the plans are still tentative and still in the informal discussion phase.
One of the sites for a possible college town is Brooks Landing. Three projects
are currently being discussed, including building a restaurant, constructing more student apartments resembling the Riverview complex and putting up condominiums.
The second potential college town, the ‘Mt. Hope Corridor Project,” if implemented, would run from Elmwood Avenue to Crittenden Road. Seligman said that now that the economy has stabilized, he is optimistic the University will make some progress on that front.
The meeting touched on some other hot topics on the River campus as well, including Greek life, declining opportunities for student employment on campus and UR’s academic ranking.
Regarding Greek life, Seligman spoke favorably of their roles and significance.
‘I’ve come to appreciate fraternities and sororities more during my last four years here than I ever had in 27 prior years as a law professor, as an associate of universities which had sororities and fraternities or as a student,” he said. ‘And what has impressed me the most is the bonding among the students who belong to fraternities and sororities.”
Sophomore Scott Strenger was one of a handful of students in attendance Tuesday night. Strenger stressed the helpfulness of attending Seligman’s Town Hall meeting.
‘It’s always good to hear President Seligman speak about things that are happening in the University,” Strenger said. ‘Especially because of the many changing policies that you hear every single day. If you hear it straight from the source, it’s a nice thing in order to take back to people when certain things come up in conversation.”
Barbosu is a member of the class of 2010.