White interview gives us some hope in recession

The Town Hall budget meeting on Jan. 22 left us feeling more than disappointed with barely any of our questions answered. The speakers didn’t give us any confidence in the future of our University, and it most certainly didn’t look like the administration had any concrete plans to deal with what’s to come. And if they did, they weren’t about to let us know about them.

Fortunately, Monday’s annual interview with President White about our budget that aired on WILL-TV was an improvement – a very small one but an improvement nonetheless.

We understand that our definition of transparency varies from that of the administration’s. But on Monday night, White made an effort to answer lingering questions and to give us some clues as to the changes we can expect. He was more than prepared to take the heat last night and in particular was much more equipped to handle those impromptu questions that were thrown at him.

He made an effort to tell us, repeatedly, that one of his goals, supported by the Board of Trustees and chancellors, throughout this entire budget crisis and recession is to keep people working and receiving paychecks. We like that idea, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Out of all the rhetoric that came out of Monday’s budget address, one statement certainly stood out: Even President White is willing to take a pay cut. He also said that people with higher salaries don’t need to be taking increases and they should be the ones getting salary freezes and taking furloughs. Come crunch time, know that we will hold you to that.

This is a much better plan of action than what came across at the Town Hall meeting. Apparently a lot can happen in two weeks – as long as he means what he says.

Even still, we’d like to see more. The kind of transparency we’re asking for includes more of these interviews and maybe even more of those Town Hall meetings. But more importantly, we want to see the plans – not after they’re done and being put into action, but rather we’d like to see the process and know what’s going on along the way.

Monday’s interview was a step in the right direction. The administration has begun to answer our questions. It has begun to pull the veil off any plans they might have. And it has begun to admit that we need cuts from the top. What we need to see now is that the transparency continues, and we see it through until the end.

President White wrote a commendably large check during his WILL interview Monday night. Of all the people who work for the University, he can afford to cash it, but he can’t afford to let this one bounce.