An open Executive Leadership Forum

Student Assembly hosts forum to discuss new expansions, future plans for Christopher Newport

“We are here to represent you!”

This was CNU’s Student Assembly promise to the student body on its Instagram page in an advertisement for their annual Executive Leadership Forum.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, CNU students gathered in the Gaines Theater for the event, eager to have their questions about the many changes coming to campus answered by CNU administrators.

The Forum was a PLP Passport Event, so it was heavily attended by PLP students, but drew in many other attendees who were involved in different organizations or who were just interested in the information that would be presented that evening.

The panel featured President Paul Trible, Executive Vice President Bill Brauer, Provost Dr. David Doughty, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Kevin Hughes and Vice President of Strategy Jennifer Latour, who each gave their input on many different changes coming to the CNU community which will impact students in the coming months and years.

The Student Assembly compiled a list of questions concerning these issues ahead of time so the panelists were able to answer them as best they could.

Each panelist discussed the different happenings that were relevant to their area of expertise and opened up the floor to give students a chance to ask questions and respond to the statements made if they felt the need to.

Several different aspects and areas of CNU were discussed at the Forum and shared with attendees, including the blueprints for the Ferguson Center  expansion as it merges with the Peninsula Fine Arts Center and plans for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2020.

As the Ferguson Center expands and merges with the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, the newly renovated building itself will include a glass-domed lobby spanning four floors, improved classrooms and an art gallery, which will bring traveling art exhibits to campus.

Additionally, over 300 new faculty and staff parking spots will be added to the area as lots are being built and expanded, which will lead to less competition between students and faculty for spots in lots they currently share.

One of the ways CNU is obtaining these spaces is by addressing the parking around the Ferguson loop.

“In order to get more spaces, we’re turning parallel parking into front-end parking so we get many more spaces in the process,” said Brauer. 

In response to a question concerning how CNU will uphold the idea of diversity, Latour said, “Of the [Council for Diversity and Inclusion] initiatives, I would say our large overarching one is building a strategic plan for the university around diversity and inclusion. While we’re doing that, we are still trying to move the needle forward and create other initiatives.”

One of these initiatives are the new plans that are being put into place for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2020.

Trible said, “Martin Luther King would not want us to close school down. We’re not going to shut the university down for a day, but we are going to pause and have a two or three hour window.”

Trible also mentioned there is a committee gathering in consultation with students now to plan a vast array of activities for several weeks around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as well.

These activities would honor Dr. King and his work, allowing students to have a “day on” instead of a “day off,” in Trible’s words.

The Forum did center around many diverse issues that CNU was facing, but as the discussion unfolded, the statements made by the administration also tied in different overarching themes about how to make the school a better place, such as CNU’s commitment to upholding the ideals of diversity and inclusion on campus as well as the university’s vision to make the arts a bigger academic focal point through blueprints of plans for the updated Ferguson Center for the Arts.

At the beginning of the event, Trible said, “It’s a great time to be a Captain, and I would suggest that there are many things we should celebrate.”

He discussed the level of excellence to which the incoming freshman class of 2023 has already risen to, as seen in their impressive applications to the school.

Consequently, the panelists stated that CNU will continue to improve in many different areas in order to uphold this standard of excellence so the university and its new students can continue to thrive.

The Executive Leadership Forum put on by Student Assembly provided an opportunity for students to get their questions addressed in real time as the university proved its commitment to offering real solutions to issues and changes in the community. 

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~

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