By Justin Provo, Contributing Reporter
President Ali Malekzadeh hosted three town hall meetings in various locations at the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses during the week of Sept. 26. Malekzadeh held these forums to discuss “some tough decisions” in the near future, given the university’s financial struggles. Malekzadeh put the university’s situation in proper context
“Enrollment for all state universities is down, way down,” Malekzadeh said, “… and some of it was MAP.”
It is clear that Malekzadeh wants to continue to be transparent saying, “Because of our own internal issues, and I will take responsibility for that… our enrollment dropped by 657 students.” To put it in perspective, “We are looking at an additional 9.5 million dollar deficit, totalling a 12.1 million dollar deficit for this academic year,” Malekzadeh said.
Malekzadeh suggested several possible solutions, including the sale of the Gage Building, the sale of our ownership stake in the University Center, and renovating dorm floors to make room for new classrooms should the Gage Building be sold. Suggestions such as early retirement initiatives, and more selective enrollment practices were also put on the table.
“The Board will not accept 1400 fewer students in two years,” Malekzadeh said, “All of us asking the legitimate question, ‘do we need all of these faculty, staff, and administrators?’ That’s really the gist of my discussion and the reason that I’m having these open forums.”
Approximately eight minutes into the discussion, the crowd of primarily faculty and staff became grim. The tension was palpable.
“You could have called us,” said professor June Lapidus of economics, “we would have stepped up.” Professor Lapidus received some support from the crowd after her comments to Malekzadeh.
“The first thing that stood out to me was the fact that President Ali held a town hall meeting in the first place. I think it was so admirable to inform the University about the issues we are facing,” Fatma Walli, a senior International Relations major said. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea to sell the U.C. and gage building. I don’t think it makes sense to have empty floors in buildings like Wabash when we spent so much money to build it.”
Among questions regarding the sizes of the student body, faculty and administration, Malekzadeh kept emphasizing how similar colleges have large endowments, where Roosevelt does not. According to real-time updates, Malekzadeh reported that 88 to 92 percent of our operations budget is based solely off of tuition and that alumni donations rarely account for more than 10 percent.
Malekzadeh has made it clear that he wants to hear from the community about the best ways to solve this issue. The university has created an anonymous comment area on their website where community members can suggest solutions.