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Members debate programming endowment

Mary Kate Malone | Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Council of Representatives met Monday night to discuss the possible creation of an endowment to bring high-profile speakers and performers to campus.Chief executive assistant Dave Baron said a fund would allow the University to attract big-name concerts and speakers.”What we would do is create a fund of $1 million, so that every year we’re making $50,000 to be used for concerts and speakers,” Baron said.According to Baron, an endowment fund of $1 million would be created for better programming on campus. The $50,000 it would generate annually would be used to help pay for major concerts or famous speakers. The idea stems from last year’s student body president Jeremy Lao’s Board of Trustees report in May. Lao requested trustee support for a $1 million fund that would generate $50,000 per year. The endowment fund would begin with a $100,000 donation from student government. The money would be taken out of the “carry-over fund,” which has served as a buffer fund for student government, in the event an office exceeds its budget. Because of accumulation from previous years of leftover funds, the account now includes $160,000.Student body president Adam Istvan said the excess money in the carry-over fund would comfortably cover the cost of student government’s initial investment in the endowment.”We will never run a $160,000 debt,” Istvan said. “We could easily take out $100,000 and still have more than enough protection.”Council members debated how to raise the remaining $900,000 for the endowment.Siegfried senator James Leito endorsed the idea but emphasized the need for research before further action is taken.”The problem is that a lot of work still needs to be done before we can write a charter for this. Who will manage it?” Leito said. “What groups will be able to withdraw from it and how much will they be allowed to collect?”Leito told representatives that he met with Father Mark Poorman, vice president for student affairs, to discuss the matter but it was not received well. “From his perspective, we have just recently come up with the idea,” Leito said. “He doesn’t think we’ve done enough research, and he said it will not be part of his tenure plan.”Council members also expressed concern over whether the endowment would draw speakers or musical guests to campus. Student Union Board Manager Jimmy Flaherty noted a $1 million endowment providing $50,000 a year would not necessarily be adequate enough to bring large concerts to campus.”To be honest, if we’re talking about bringing in Dave Matthews, it’s not enough money,” Flaherty said. “To put on a show the way it should be for him would cost between $250,000 and $500,000.”Flaherty said choosing to allocate the fund to speakers instead of musicians would be more beneficial and practical.”It is going to be harder to get alumni to donate money for a big U2 concert,” he said.Leito agreed, but said that if the endowment fund could be increased, then the likelihood of bringing big-name musicians would increase. “This is a 100-percent academic campus and speakers will serve an academic purpose. But I don’t think we should completely avoid concerts,” Leito said. “If we are going to get the big names, then we need to shoot for the moon.”Cavanaugh senator Jordan Bongiovanni reminded representatives of the need to pursue the interests of the students on campus, since the initial donation made by student government is ultimately from the students themselves.”Where the money came from is going to influence where it is going,” she said. “The money is from students and for students, so they need to be considered in where it’s going.” Student body vice president Karla Bell assigned various members of COR to a committee that will research the possibilities of an endowment fund and develop a plan to begin raising money.Leito assured representatives that steps would be taken to turn the discussion into reality.”By the end of the academic year we will have a plan for the endowment and hopefully money going into it,” Leito said.

In other COR news:u Representatives also discussed the technology fund, and Leito announced to representatives that new computers are going to be purchased.”Effective immediately, SUB and student government will each be getting a new computer,” Leito said.Leito noted that the actual number of computers to be purchased was not yet determined. “We will get OIT to look at our computers a see which ones are salvageable,” he said. Those that can be repaired will likely be given to each class council. Members told Bell how many computers they believed their respective constituencies needed.