The Council of the Princeton University Community discussed the recent sit-in protest and updates to strategic planning task forces at its monthly meeting on Monday.
“The CPUC was created in the 1960s, obviously a time of tumult and argument on campus for the purpose of having a forum in which faculty administrators, alumni and staff can come together in civil and respectful discussion,” University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said in light of the recent sit-in protest in his office in Nassau Hall. “I hope this forum will continue to be a place where that kind of conversation can occur.”
The CPUC Resources Committee plans to look into suggestions and concerns brought to the University administration, Eisgruber explained.
In addition, a newly created trustees' committeewill allow people to submit their views and will collect scholarly opinion from those who can speak to the facts, especially with regard to the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879. Members of thiscommitteewill relay the progress and information to the University early in the spring semester.
“I’ve been giving updates on the strategic planning process for over a year, and my reason for continually bringing it back to you is to make sure that you’re aware that things are going on here and to alert you that there are opportunities to participate,” Eisgruber said.
According to Eisgruber, when a task force issues its report, the full document is posted on the strategic planning website. The public, including the campus community and the alumni community, has an opportunity to make comments to which the administration will reply.
These comments can be either recommendations or concerns, Eisgruber said, and they are a gesture to promote transparency. Recommendations that require little to no mobilization may be implemented promptly.
“We are happy to have comments at any point. This strategic planning process is an ongoing conversation,” Eisgruber explained, referring to the service and civic engagement self-study that was posted earlier this month in particular.
Eisgruber said that more reports and drafts will be published in the weeks ahead.
The Council also discussed the logistics of the priorities committee for the fiscal year 2017.
University Provost David Lee GS ’99 explained that the goal of priorities committee, a subcommittee of CPUC, is to review the operating budget of the university. This committee meets twice a week from mid-October through mid-February and is comprised of cabinet members, faculty members, graduate students, undergraduates students and staff.
“As we review budget of the university, we look at the budget as well as the process, and consider a number of policy variables that will have budgetary implications,” Lee said.
Lee explained that one variable is the faculty and staff salary.
“One of the important things that we benefit from is long-term endowment returns,” Lee said, noting that the University does see year-to-year swings. “In the past 30 years, we’ve enjoyed quite substantial and probably extranormal returns. We rely on very loyal and generous alumni donation.”
According to Lee, the committee maintains a healthy financial position through solid credit ratings, sufficient liquidity and a loyal alumni base, on top of long-term endowment returns.
Lee noted that about 60 percent of the undergraduate body is qualified for financial aid. He also discussed the absolute affordability of university education and the Stay Even Policy, which ensures that the student’s contribution remains unchanged despite fluctuations in tuition rates.
The subcommittee is interested in comparing the University with other institutions and accumulating data on student debt, Lee also noted. He said that only 18 percent of the student body graduates with any debt, and the debt burden per capita averages to $1,122. The accumulated debt over four years for the 18 percent is approximately $6,000.
Students also raised questions regarding the co-op petition and the need for transparency on University committees and their agendas. Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun assured that both points are on the agenda for discussion.
Correction:Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated which committeewill examine the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879. It is the trustees' committee. The 'Prince' regrets the error.