MILWAUKEE (April 10, 2013) – Students gathered in the first floor AMU lobby on Wednesday, April 10 for an open forum with the university president Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. hosted by Marquette University Student Government and the Office of the President. Topics discussed at the forum included university space issues, diversifying the university core, tuition transparency and the restructuring of the Big East conference. Outgoing MUSG President Arica Van Boxtel, a senior in the College of Communication, asked whether the soon-to-be released strategic plan will address academic space issues on campus. Father Pilarz informed students that the renovation of Sensenbrenner Hall will begin this summer. College of Arts & Sciences offices in Coughlin Hall will be moved into this space. Coughlin Hall will be renovated to be become a more user-friendly space. The planned transformations in Sensenbrenner, as well as Johnston and Marquette Hall, will take three summers to complete.
Emily Pirkl, a junior in the College of Engineering, expressed concern about diversifying Marquette’s undergraduate core curriculum. Father Pilarz recognized that the university has not looked at the core in a long time. He also emphasized that it is a university priority to have a core curriculum that balances its Jesuit stature with the humanities. The university, he said, does not want students to lose the opportunity to study philosophy and theology, but also understands that the core needs to be update in order to keep up with the needs of the 21st century. Ultimately, Pilarz emphasized, revising the core must begin with the faculty.
Questions about tuition transparency came from Mary Maruggi, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Maruggi asked Father Pilarz for an explanation of why students saw tuition rates go up and, simultaneously, saw budget cuts in various offices throughout the university. Pilarz drew students’ attention to the $90 million of unfunded financial aid that the university distributes each year. This money, he said, comes out of the university’s operating costs. He also cited the university’s 82 buildings that need to be maintained, technology and salary and benefits for employees as other heavy cost burdens. “We have nothing to hide, we’ll show you where every dollar goes,” Pilarz adamantly emphasized. He referenced the tuition breakdown in the Marquette Tribune as a good example of tuition breakdown.
Alex Lahr, a junior in the College of Communications, asked Father Pilarz about the financial implications of the restructuring of the Big East conference. According to Pilarz, the new Big East conference will be extremely lucrative for Marquette. He emphasized the success of Marquette athletics over the last six years as an important factor in sealing the Big East contract. Some university constituents were concerned, he said, about the seven universities pursuing a new contract when none of these university’s athletic programs included a football team. Pilarz said that the university proved these people incorrect and that he is very pleased in how the restructuring was sorted out.
In her closing statements, Van Boxtel reminded students that the Father Pilarz Forum is hosted by MUSG once per semester and encouraged students to attend next fall.
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