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Spring Conversation with the President: a recap

April 3, 2014
By Lynn Vollbrecht'06

After some good-natured ribbing at the University of Kentucky’s expense (a show of support for the University of Wisconsin, who will face Kentucky in the NCAA’s Final Four Saturday), President Bierman got down to business in a spring Conversation with the President that touched on three topics: the budget, the Powerhouse, and positioning Beloit as a national leader in putting the liberal arts into practice.

Recent news in hiring, grants
He kicked off the event with a tip of the cap to the college’s physical plant and housekeeping staff, noting the challenge they faced in a ferocious and seemingly unending winter. In recapping recent college news, he mentioned several sizeable grants, deemed “expressions of the external community’s faith that Beloit College does extraordinary things.”

Bierman also called out news including the approval of eight faculty for tenure, the hiring of a new football coach and a new vice president for enrollment, and the retirement of Executive Assistant to the President Connie Truesdale and Vice President for Enrollment Nancy Benedict.

The budget
While they’ve only been on staff for less than a year, Bierman started his budget talk by praising the work of Vice President for Finance and Planning and Treasurer Laurie Stickelmaier and Controller Jada Campbell.

“They’re setting us up for a financial future that’s much more stable than what we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “We’re less than a year into what is a very important transition for us in terms of the business model of the college.”

Bierman talked about the 2014-'15 budget that was to be unveiled to the board of trustees later this month, and explained how that budget will look based on a slightly smaller incoming class this past fall. For the most part, his comments on the topic mirrored those delivered at this week’s Beloit Student Congress meeting, and to Academic Senate in February and again last month.

The Powerhouse
“The Powerhouse project continues, pretty gloriously, actually,” Bierman said.

Schematic designs by Studio Gang--basically showing what will go where, and how--are hot off the presses, and currently in the hands of a local construction firm, who will give the college cost estimates for said designs. Bierman described the designs as “stunning,” and estimates the larger college community will be able to set eyes on the schematics within a few weeks.

At the April board meeting, the trustees will be asked to approve a purchase agreement, which Bierman emphasized does not transfer ownership of the building to the college, but sets the stage for the college to complete fundraising for the project (which must happen, along with several other things, prior to that transfer).

Bierman proceeded to wrap up the conversation by answering questions posed online earlier this week, about enrollment , housing, and the alcohol policy, before ending with his trademark Commencement Day weather forecast. Noting that the event will be held a week later than usual this year, he said “Forget this 70 degrees stuff--it’s gonna be 74.”