Spring town hall meeting addresses new facilities, faculty policies
Rachel O'Grady | Tuesday, February 23, 2016
After receiving consistently low ratings from both students and faculty, University Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves announced the Burger King in the LaFortune Student Center will be replaced next fall.
“The scores on our services were incredibly varied, and Burger King has scored very low for the second time in a row,” Affleck-Graves said during Monday’s spring faculty town hall meeting in Washington Hall. “So we’re going to be making a change there this summer. We will certainly have something new coming in and replacing Burger King.”
Affleck-Graves also said plans were underway to improve other facilities, particularly the Decio Faculty Commons.
Beyond facility improvements on campus, Affleck-Graves said the current campus construction is progressing as scheduled, for the most part.
“I think most of you have noticed a little bit of building going on on campus,” he said. “Courtney Hall is nearing completion; it will open this August. The Hesburgh Library renovations are just spectacular. I’d suggest you go and have a look, if you haven’t already.”
The move-in dates of Campus Crossroads are projected to start in August 2017 and end in May 2018, according to recent estimates, Affleck-Graves said.
“The Duncan Family Student Center is slightly behind schedule, but we plan on having that open and moved in by December 2017,” he said.
At the Town Hall, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced several additional employee benefits to be implemented in the next year.
“Notre Dame is great for so many reasons — for our great students, for the education we offer, for its research capacity and for so many things to be proud of. But I’m particularly proud of the people who work here,” Jenkins said. “We want to continue to make this place a truly great place to work at, a place where you feel supported.”
The first of these upcoming changes is an “enhanced education benefit.”
“It’s important for you, and the people that work here, to get the education you need to do the work you do. And it’s good for us if you do that as well, so we want to help you do that,” Jenkins said. “We’ve had an education benefit, but this is enhanced, so we’re providing an opportunity for people to enhance their skills and improve their education in particular areas.”
According to Robert McQuade, vice president of Human Resources, the University currently provides up to $1,500 per year to cover additional education costs.
“That was last changed in 2008. We are going to increase that to $3,000 starting in July. For job certifications, we’re going to increase from $750 to $1,000, and for the first time, we’re going to include doctoral programs and courses,” he said. “We believe that this will continue to enhance development opportunities for all of our employees, and we’re very pleased with this.”
Beyond this, McQuade introduced a partnership with Bright Horizons Care Advantage to help provide assistance to faculty whose family members require care.
“I know a number of you have children or others that you need to take care of, and often that creates challenges for you on some occasions.” Jenkins said. “This is a program that will provide help for you to care for those people in your care, when those occasions arise.”
Additionally, the University will help provide short-term income for faculty in need.
“Short-term income replacement is another important thing, in times of injury or sickness or a new child in the family, and if you need some kind of income replacement, this program will provide that,” Jenkins said.
McQuade also announced a four-week paid leave for new parents, whether due to birth or adoption.
“Families are important,” Jenkins said. “We want to provide support for parents as they welcome a new child into their family and care for that child and work with that transition into parenthood.”
Due to the University’s ongoing commitment to mitigating climate change, Affleck-Graves said they plan to begin utilizing and improving the dam at St. Joseph River for hydraulic power.
“We’re also working with South Bend and the federal authorities to use the dam on the river downtown for hydraulic energy,” Affleck-Graves said. “We’re working with the federal authorities to help us do that, and it will save us eight percent of our costs to do that, which makes a lot of financial sense. What this does is makes a significant impact on our carbon output.”
Overall, Affleck-Graves said he was impressed with the changes and looks forward to making more improvements.
“We do want to confirm our areas of strength. I know we can get complacent, but I want us to keep doing these things well. I have also highlighted areas of improvement, so we can see how we can do better, and we will do better,” Affleck-Graves said.