Turns out Provost Dan Linzer can crack a pretty good joke.
Asked how his office will handle the upcoming construction of Kresge, Northwestern’s typically firm academic chief joked, “We’ll just give all the students A's and not hold classes.” Well, it’s funny if you’re the provost, at least.
And what exactly does the provost do? Just ask him.
“What the hell’s a provost?" he joked before launching into an oft-humorous and candid exchange with ASG about academic technologies, a new student center and the recent controversial forum on diversity.
The heated Feb. 12 diversity conversation, Linzer told ASG members at Wednesday’s Senate session, was a good public discussion that provided an emotional gauge on students. “But there was lot of playing to the cameras and posturing,” he said of students, as well as some misinformation. “The serious work,” he clarified, “comes during the small conversations.”
Since Feb. 12, Linzer has met with three smaller groups of students and staff to expand on proposals students suggested at the forum. Eighteen students have since requested seats on the Undergraduate Diversity Council under Linzer’s purview. Two have been offered seats already. (Likewise, later in the evening, Senate approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to address diversity publicity to incoming students. It was proposed at last week’s meeting.)
Linzer went on to explain his practical approach to requests for a new student center (“a new what?” he joked when asked about ASG’s proposal, with which he’s become thoroughly acquainted). Linzer said a new student center might be on a list of items presented to donors. “It’s on the menu,” he said. “It’s something we want to do in a very serious way.” But, he explained, success depends on whether donors get excited about the idea.
“It’s certainly something we’re all aware of,” he said of the student center. “Whether that can be achieved in a campaign depends on the donors that step forward to make that happen.”
“Norris isn’t the best student center I’ve ever seen,” he admitted. “It’s not where you want it to be. Would we like to see something happen? Yes. But whether it happens depends on what else is in the queue and who else wants to see it happen.”
Linzer also explained construction of a new student center is dependent on the developments of other construction projects, notably Kresge, Kellogg, and the new music building, otherwise known as the Southeast Campus Project. And, of course, any new project is dependent on the availability of funds.
“There’s a somewhat misguided opinion that I sit on a pile of cash and I can decide to allocate it wherever I want,” he said, but there isn’t much wiggle room in the university’s expenses.
Senate ended with a brief, efficient student group funding session, allocating $11,904 recommended by the ASG Student Groups Committee. Senators approved an additional $279 requested on the Senate floor. In total, 37 groups received funds, which will be used during Spring Quarter.
ASG Student Groups Vice President Lauren Masterson later said the night’s funding meeting was the “most organized funding session” of her term. “We worked really hard to make our recommendations the most informed they’ve been,” she said, particularly with respect to how groups have been given funds historically.
But not everyone left happy. “We didn’t get funds for our tandem bicycle,” joked former Financial Vice President Jeremy Yablon after the meeting. “We find this very disappointing.”
NBN welcomes Matt Bellassai, former ASG Presidential candidate and Public Relations Vice President, as Special ASG Correspondent this quarter. Please see our note on his coverage.