By Noah Rubel
On Tuesday, Nov. 11, Hardin-Simmons University’s Student Government Association (SGA) had an opportunity to practice their governing powers by hosting a town hall with University President, Eric Bruntmyer.
The town hall was open for all students to attend and be able to listen and ask questions of President Bruntmyer. At this meeting, students listened to the answers Bruntmyer gave to questions asked through an online survey sent out to the entire campus.
The main focus of the town hall was Bruntmeyer answering hot topic questions, or the most asked questions, from students in the survey conducted by SGA. These sets of questions came from four different topics.
The first of these “hot topic questions” was the one that would affect the student body the fastest. What should students expect from the rest of the semester? Throughout the semester students have been asking the administration and their professors what next semester will look like due to fears of being moved fully online. President Bruntmyer responded in an honest fashion and was unsure what the steps forward would exactly look like. But, one thing was for certain in the president’s mind, he wanted the students to have a voice in whatever happens. Bruntmyer expressed that the student body should be able to help decide what the rest of this semester and next semester will look like in regard to being on campus.
The next question was in regard to HSU demographics. What steps is the university taking to continue to be more inclusive to minority students? President Bruntmyer answered this question by promoting more inclusiveness. Some of the ideas Bruntmyer suggested was talking in person or interacting in more zoom calls with minorities on campus. Another suggestion from President Bruntmyer was urging and challenging all students on campus to reach out to a student who is from a different background and get to know them.
The third question is one that has been in the back of every student’s mind on campus for quite some time. What is the financial state of the institution and should we expect to see more budget cuts? Further clarification of the university’s financial state was provided by President Bruntmyer so students could form a better understanding of the present financial state of the institution.
President Bruntmyer really only stated that there would be no new budget cuts in the coming years. This served as a segue into two minor topics that Bruntmyer spoke on as well. Both of these topics were tied to HSU’s “the way forward” plan, where the president mentioned that programs had improved on campus. Also, 2019 was the first year since 2014 that the University had achieved its net-zero goal and had not overspent on its budget.
The last hot topic question that was answered by President Bruntmyer concerned further clarification of what exactly happened with Logsdon Seminary. The main reasons that Bruntmyer explained that the seminary was younger compared to other similar institutions, and it was underfunded for what the seminary was trying to accomplish despite its multi-million dollar endowment. But, despite this, President Bruntmyer explained that he wants to reach out with other religious programs to draw a wider audience in an effort to bring a lasting success to HSU’s seminary. He said that this could possibly achieved by turning to online programs to reach more students.
The last topic of the town hall ended on a positive note. Below is a list of improvements that President Bruntmyer plans to take on for the University in the next five years.
1. Restore Behrens Chapel
2. Renovate Behrens Hall
3. Add on to Sid Richardson, side center
4. New lab
5. Equine therapy building
6. Create an engineering program
7. Improve minority representation
8. Add softball lights
9. Build 140 more apartments
10. Add on and expand the dining hall