VanAken announces reallocation of CPE, addresses faculty and staff benefits

Dianne Chambers, professor of English, speaks to President VanAken after a mandatory faculty and staff meeting in the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on Thursday, Oct. 27. (Photo by Stefan Carlson)

New president Troy VanAken and members of his administration announced plans for reallocation of program and office spaces as well as changes in benefits for faculty and staff members at a full faculty and staff meeting in the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on Thursday, Oct. 27, according to sources.

The meeting, which was called by VanAken, was mandatory for all EC employees to attend. Students were not made aware of the meeting and The Leader was barred from attending.

Among the reallocation plans announced at the meeting was to move the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) into the A.C. Buehler Library and relocate the admissions office to the space the CPE is currently occupying, according to sources.

This will require construction in the library that will likely take place during the summer, according to Susan Steffen, director of the A.C. Buehler Library.

“Right now what’s happening is there is planning going on,” she said. “We’ve had meetings and all the staffs involved know what’s going on and the architects are working on drawings that we will see soon,” she added.

Once the blueprints have been completed they will likely be sent to the President’s Office or to the Cabinet for review before being approved, Steffen said.

Although the project does not yet have a budget, Steffen speculated the recently announced $3.2 million gift to the CPE by Board of Trustee members Russell and Joyce

Weigand, which was previously reported by The Leader, will partially finance it.

“[The donation is] helping a great deal because this isn’t going to be free,” she said. “I think the cash part of that donation will be ... used for this,” she said. “I don’t know yet if it’s the whole thing or if they are going to take part of it [the donation].”

While the project requires a large amount of work, Steffen hopes to keep the process of the construction as smooth as possible for students.

“My main goals here are to do this in a way that helps students and makes things better for students and has a minimal [impact] on students as we are doing it,” she said, referencing the noise and dust that will accompany the construction.

In other business, VanAken announced a $750,000 investment in EC and members of his administration told faculty and staff their medical premium expenses are not going to be increased for 2017.

However, sources told The Leader that while premiums will not be increased, certain surcharges — such as one for smoking and one for spouses listed on faculty or staff medical insurance — will be added.

VanAken also announced the long-term plan to bring all EC offices currently on 180 Park Ave. back to the EC campus as well as the addition of an athletic dome for sports programs and recreational facilities to accommodate for the space.