The Presidential Convocation is a semesterly speech given by Father Michael Graham, president, that is essentially a “state of the campus” address. Graham outlines the upcoming priorities of the university as well as updates on current projects. Monday’s convocation addressed the reallocation of contingency funds for the Health United Building (HUB) to construct a multi-purpose court and adapting to a growing campus, among other topics.
Graham began his speech announcing promotions and tenures, as well as delivering some pieces of good news. Most notably, a $3 million contingency packet for the Health United Building ended up not being needed, so it will go to a section of the building that was originally scrapped to save money: a multi-purpose court.
“(The court will be) soft floor, not hard floor, and people can do you name it on it,” Graham said. “…It’s the kind of facility whose potential is limited only by our imagination and student creativity.”
The rest of the speech was dedicated to outlining his priorities for the rest of the year. He outlined 10 specific goals. Here are the five that pertained most to student life:
1. Modifying the university’s strategic plan and identifying goals for the 2019-2020 school year
2. Plan for a new residence hall — An external consultant has already been hired to prepare to accommodate growing class sizes. By April the university will have more concrete plans.
3.“Successfully recruit next year’s first-year class and retain 90 percent of this year’s to their sophomore year” — The number of campus visitors has already broken last year’s record, making Graham optimistic that the Class of 2023 will meet the goal of 1,250 incoming students.
4. “Continue to strengthen the School of Nursing in light of their increasing centrality to university strategy” — Graham said he hoped the HUB would contribute to this.
5. “Prepare to host Fall 2019 Conference of Universities Studying Slavery” — This conference aims to address historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education as well as the legacies of slavery in modern American society.
The remaining five goals addressed mostly fiscal policies. However, Graham did mention a potential plan to revamp the McDonald Library either in 2020 or 2021.
Though open to the public, faculty and staff tend to attend the speech instead of students, and this year was no different. Graham said that student attendance has varied throughout the years and recognizes that the 3 p.m. time interferes with other activities that students might be participating in, such as the Student Government Association meeting.
He also cited the topics of the speech itself as a reason that faculty and staff tend to dominate the audience.
“I think that the kind of things I talk about, while they intersect with student concerns… I talk about them at an altitude, if you will, that isn’t necessarily a student altitude,” Graham said. “I think that the information, the way that it’s pitched, is more towards the faculty and staff.”
However, Graham said, he invites any interested students to attend in the future. He added that he anticipates information relevant to students will also be addressed in next week’s meeting with the Senate.
By: Aidan Callahan | Staff Writer