Despite difficult economic times, the university continues to remain in good financial health, AU President Neil Kerwin said at an informal question-and-answer session Sunday night.
“Every indicator we have is very positive,” he said.
This was the worst economy he has seen since 1982, a year when enrollment at AU dropped by 6.5 percent, Kerwin said.
“I’ve asked our financial aid office to monitor activity with regard for the need for emergency assistance,” he said.
One student asked about the problems that students have with the Campus Store.
“[Vice President of Finance and Treasurer Don Myers] is in process of evaluating the bookstore’s services as we speak,” Kerwin said. “We’ve got an issue there, it sounds like we do. I would recommend that you make the Student Government aware about your concerns because they will have a voice in that selection process.”
He said he also hopes to recruit more international students.
“My strong intention is to grow the number and percentage of international students in the undergraduate student body,” he said. “When I was an undergraduate, the number was probably twice the size that it is today.”
One student asked what a day is like for AU’s 14th president, and Kerwin gave an hour-by-hour rundown of his schedule today, which started with a 7:30 a.m. conference call with a board of trustees member and ends with an evening Kennedy Political Union event that has similar format to yesterday’s event.
Kerwin opened the discussion by comparing the AU of today with the AU of 40 years ago, when he was an undergraduate in what is now the School of Public Affairs.
“It’s really quite astonishing how much has changed and how much has stayed the same,” he said. “The general intellectual atmosphere of the campus is different.”
Many students came to the event with specific questions for Kerwin.
“I have a couple of questions and I’m curious about how they’re addressed in the new [strategic] plan,” said Vladimir Shamanov, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business before Kerwin started taking questions.
Resident assistants in McDowell and Leonard Halls sponsored the event, as did School of Communication Associate Professor W. Joseph Campbell, whose office is in McDowell.
“We started talking about this event in the fall with McDowell and Leonard RAs,” Campbell said.
Kerwin mingled with students for about 20 minutes before the dialogue started as they munched on cookies and cheeses. He shook hands and spoke with almost everyone in the room. Approximately 30 students attended the discussion, which was held in McDowell Formal Lounge.