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Baron, Shappell forsee successful transition

Maddie Hanna | Monday, February 14, 2005

With the stressful campaigning now behind them, Dave Baron and Lizzi Shappell, Notre Dame’s president-elect and vice president-elect, know the hardest work lies ahead – long before they assume office on April 1.But both Baron and Shappell believe the transition period, traditionally a difficult time for incoming administrations, will be positive and successful.”It’s guaranteed to be a smooth transition,” Shappell said. “Because of our involvement this year, it’s going to make the transition easier.”The first step during this transition period is choosing a staff, Baron and Shappell said. Staff selection includes picking a chief executive assistant and committee heads for Senate committees, among other positions.Baron said determining next year’s chief executive assistant will be difficult, a choice even more complicated by the fact he served in the same position this year.”That’s not going to be an easy decision,” Baron said. “There are incredibly gifted people [to choose from], and each different personality brings something, as a communicator, advisor, coordinator – it’s a lot of different responsibilities.” Baron and Shappell said while they made a point not to discuss candidates for chief executive assistant during the campaign, they each have people in mind and will begin to conduct interviews for all positions.Besides forming a staff, Baron and Shappell must face another imminent challenge – working out their calendar for next year before April 1.The two also plan to begin work on delivering their campaign promises, namely the Catholic Think Tank of America speaker series, the concert endowment issue and the second Board of Trustees report.According to Shappell, the preparation for the Catholic Think Tank series will begin during this transition period, starting with writing letters to prominent Catholic speakers.”That’s something we need to get on now,” Shappell said.Baron said they planned to have the first speaker in the series at Notre Dame before the end of the year.Discussing what the two termed as their most important issue – concert endowment – Baron said, “There’s been a lot of work done on the endowment that just needs to come together.”Shappell said a meeting with vice president of University Relations Lou Nanni was already planned, a first step toward their goal of raising the endowment from the current $100,000 to “at least $1 million.”Both Baron and Shappell emphasized the importance of Student Union Board in this process. “We realize our end of student government is not the programming end,” Shappell said.Baron, who worked on the winter BOT report with Istvan and Bell, said he and Shappell would put a lot of work into “Part Two: The Solution,” which will be presented to the Board this spring.”That’s going to be a major initiative,” Baron said.According to Shappell, current chair of the Gender Relations committee in Senate, her work on the Sexual Assault and upcoming Eating Disorder Awareness Weeks tie into this BOT report.”These [events] are part of the solution, and we hope to offer some continuity there,” Shappell said.Baron also said he planned to establish a new Community Relations committee on Senate, something he considers to be important and previously overlooked.”This is an issue Student Government hasn’t really taken up before,” Baron said. He explained he wants to increase transportation for students, increase the CSC’s budget, place community members on neighborhood coalitions and get students to “embrace South Bend.”Baron contrasted his and Shappell’s upcoming transition with that of current president and vice president Adam Istvan and Karla Bell, who had little student government experience and faced the added difficulty of working with a newly-revised and not fully understood Constitution.”Transitioning is the one time experience matters most,” Baron said.But Baron said he did not want to criticize Istvan and Bell’s lack of experience.”I have a ton of respect for Adam and Karla because they brought a fresh perspective,” Baron said. “Hopefully, we can bring a fresh perspective despite being insiders.”Shappell said the transition would be a time to reflect on past student government actions as well as plan for the future.”This is our chance to see what worked, what didn’t,” she said. “This is where we’ve been and where we want to go.”