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Poorman addresses group

Andrew Thagard | Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Vice President of Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman addressed the Campus Life Council during its meeting Monday, presenting members with an outline of his office’s strategic plan and announcing actions to be taken in response to the CLC’s recommendations. These include establishing a gender relations center and the renewal of transportation services for students with temporary disabilities.

“I appreciate the opportunity to come and update CLC on some projects of interest,” Poorman said. “This [report] has taken a lion’s share of our time, especially during the last 15 months.”

The plan received provisional approval at the last Board of Trustees meeting and will receive final approval during the Board’s meeting in May. It focuses on residence hall life, campus programming and leadership development along with improving services like the Career Center, University Health Services and technology for graduate and undergraduate students.

“[Generally] strategic plans are about buildings,” Poorman said. “I think the focus of this report is on … programming and staffing changes.”

Poorman spent the majority of his presentation outlining goals of Student Affairs regarding on-campus housing and dorm life, among them the construction of four new residence facilities, the reduction of occupancy of existing dorms by 10 percent to relieve overcrowding, the demolition of University Village and its replacement with new housing for married students and the implementation of new on-campus living arrangements for seniors.

Poorman said that he would like to see the percentage of on-campus seniors increase from the current 46 percent to 52 to 54 percent in the coming years and raise the percentage of students who live on campus from 79 to 82 percent.

“It’s a modest and doable goal,” he said.

The report also proposes the replacement of Stepan Center with a new facility to accommodate 3,500-4,000 people, the construction of a retreat center and the expansion of the LaFortune Student Center to include Washington and Crowley Halls.

“The goals for campus life are the product of administrative, student, alumni, parent and faculty and staff input through the formation of an ad hoc committee and the use of surveys and focus groups.” Poorman said. “I’m grateful to the committee for a thorough job.”

Poorman also updated CLC on changes that were the result of their efforts, most notably the establishment of a gender relations center. The idea, he said, was first proposed in 2002 by then student body president Brooke Norton.

“I was very receptive to it at the time … and the slow wheels of progress have finally yielded something,” he said. “I’m pleased to announce that we are indeed going to create this center.”

Poorman said that the new center will be housed in LaFortune and he named Pangborn Hall rector Heather Rakoczy as the founding director. The center will be funded through the Office of Student Affairs.

“It’s humbling,” Rakoczy said of being named the center’s director. “I’m excited about the opportunity.”

Poorman also addressed concerns raised by the CLC regarding transportation options for students suffering from temporary disabilities. Previously, golf carts had been available but the service was eliminated amid budget cuts last year. Next year, he said, temporarily disabled students will have access to motorized scooters stored in the Notre Dame Security and Police building. This year, students can contact the Office for Students with Disabilities for information on obtaining a scooter. He praised the Provost’s Office for providing the funding for next year’s project.

In other CLC news:

u Members unanimously app-roved the drafting of a letter to Poorman regarding campus beautification. The letter will include what members perceive to be problem areas on campus and will be accompanied with photos.

u The CLC approved a request passed by Student Senate to form a task force to address social awareness issues, including diversity on campus and the possibility of implementing the concept into a required course for undergraduate students. Charlie Ebersol, director of the Student Union Board, requested to chair the committee.

u Members voiced their frustrations on the lack of activity of the CLC task forces this semester. Some of the task forces, including RA Training, have yet to meet since December, members said.

“If don’t know if this is just my experience … but with the exception of CLC meetings, I haven’t gotten instructions to do anything else this semester,” Rakoczy said.