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January, 2010

  1. Atrium, Shmatrium.

    January 28, 2010 by Tommy Titan

    Dear Tommy,
    I NEED some serious wisdom.  Over the past two years at IWU I have grown to love the people of this campus, teachers and students alike.  However, that being said, I could not be more ashamed and disappointed with the way the University has turned its back on its students (especially the middle and now vast lower class, where the obvious and fatal socio-economic effects of the recession occur).  I was wondering if you could politely ask President Wilson why he finds it in his power to build an atrium that the student body would have much rather seen as a classroom or additional grant/scholarship funds . Also could you ask why he has been unwilling to review the financial status of his current students?  Now I am sure he has taken a glance and noticed some of the effects of the recession (just turn on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or any other major network in the United States), but he clearly has not done a decent job if he decided to raise the tuition once again.  I understand it was not as vast as in previous years, but that does not explain why it still was raised to the highest tuition in Illinois.  I understand the school has financial obligations that it is required to cover, including salaries and Sodexho, but isn’t the key part to the mission statement of any university the part about the “student?”  Quite frankly, at this school students are more like a form of easy cash and once you’re in, the administration will turn their back on you and watch as your family struggles to stay afloat.  I hope that I have this all wrong, but like I have said it seems only that the opposite is prevalent on campus.  Thanks so much Tommy!  I cannot wait to hear from you or President Wilson.
    –THE TYPICAL IWU STUDENT

    Dear TYPICAL,

    I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me.  Some of this is beyond the scope of my column, but I will answer what I can as directly as possible.  You should know that these are my words, and I have not consulted the President on any of this.  In fact, I’ve only asked for his help with one column so far—Super Bowl picks—and he nailed it.

    First, the Joslin Atrium is a gift from a pair of donors who wanted to spiff up the Memorial Center as part of the Transforming Lives campaign we’re in.  President Wilson didn’t ask them to build the atrium, but that’s what they wanted.  Did you get any gift certificates for Christmas?  Did you refuse them because they stipulated where you had to spend that money?  Right.  Now, you should also know that of the $125 million IWU is trying to raise in the next five years, $100 million will go toward growing the endowment, not for capital projects like the atrium.  What’s more, $30 million is to go directly to students in the form of scholarships and financial aid—the largest single component of the campaign—and President Wilson was very involved in establishing the campaign strategy.  The administration is aware of the challenges students and their families face, and that’s in part why the campaign is structured as it is.

    I can assure you that no one wants to make decisions that negatively affect people on this campus—but 85% of the budget is people.  The recession is requiring tough decisions to be made.  Did you know that all faculty and staff salaries have been frozen for two years and retirement benefits have been cut in half?  And departmental budgets, which have been frozen for some time, are now being cut by 1.5 to 2%.  Every part of the campus community is feeling the pinch.

    We do not have the highest tuition in Illinois.  That’s a fact.  And there really is no way around raising tuition for a school that is dependent upon tuition revenue (like the vast majority of schools in the country).  If we could build the endowment, which as you now know we’re trying to do, we could afford to implement lower tuition raises—and that’s just what the administration would like to do.

    Lastly, I have not encountered, in my many days here at IWU, a more student-centered president than Dick Wilson.  He isn’t perfect (like yours truly), but he does consider the ramifications of every single decision on the lives of students and their families.  While you may not always be aware of all that goes into the decisions made on campus, know that the powers that be truly have your best interest in mind.  And if you don’t believe me, contact the President directly.  He has email, even if he isn’t cool enough to have a column of his own.

    –Tommy


  2. Super Picks

    January 14, 2010 by Tommy Titan

    Dear Tommy,
    Since the Bears didn’t make the playoffs this year, who do you think will be in the Super Bowl?  Personally, I think it will be a shoot-out between two greats: Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
    –HEAVY D

    Dear HEAVY D,

    Obviously, with the first week of NFL playoffs behind us, my job as prognosticator is made a little easier.  I say that because, despite being a Bears fan, a week ago I would have said I liked Green Bay’s chances to make some noise—and that ain’t gonna happen now.  So, who do I like among those left in the field?

    In the AFC, I think it’s difficult to make a case for anyone but the Colts.  Yes, the Chargers are impressive, and LT knows—and is playing like—he doesn’t have too many more chances at a ring, but I just can’t imagine Peyton not getting there.  The playoffs are all about quarterback play, especially quarterback decision making, and no one is better than the unflappable Peyton Manning in crunch time.

    I like your pick in the NFC as well, but I’m actually going to go with New Orleans there.  Favre has had, by all accounts, a miraculous season, and he has an array of weapons around him, but my gut tells me his gunslinger mentality is going to end up costing the Vikes when it matters.  Staying true to my belief that decision making is critical, I like the Saints’ chances with Brees at the helm.  They’ve been as steady as anyone over the course of the season, and though they’ve stumbled recently, I think they’ll get back on track against the Cardinals and rediscover their swagger.

    As an aside, next year I’m putting money on the Titans for the Division III championship and the Bears for the Super Bowl.

    –Tommy


  3. Giftmas

    January 7, 2010 by Tommy Titan

    Dear Tommy,
    What did you get for Christmas this year?  What is the best gift you’ve ever gotten?  Happy Holidays!
    –GK

    Dear GK,

    I appreciate you writing me over the break—and wishing me happy holidays.  It is only because my holidays were so happy that I was not inclined to reply immediately.  I spent my days lounging around the house, sipping egg nog from my favorite moose glasses, catching up on all the Modern Family I had DVR’d before the break.  For a couple days there, I didn’t even bother to put on my loin cloth and helmet.

    So what did I get for Christmas this year?  Let me see….first, the usual boring stuff in my stocking (sword sharpener, 6-pack of loin cloths, new set of iron wristband/bracelet things).  I also got the new Super Mario Bros for my Wii, a digital camera, a UV toothbrush sanitizer, Heroes of Greek Mythology by Charles Kingsley, the Ab Energizer, the Xpress Redi Set Go, two Zhu Zhu Pets, weightlifting gloves, a cell phone wallet by Buxton, a new recipe book for my Easy Bake Oven (I know, I know—but those little chocolate cakes are awesome), the Tool Band-It, a year’s supply of Beer Nuts, the Back to the Future trilogy on Blu-ray, Simoniz Fix It!, the new Ke$ha album, and a Remington Lectro Blade.  Everything but the Ke$ha album was on my list, so I was happy.

    And the best gift I’ve ever received for Christmas?  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on DVD.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving (all together now…“that it is, Edward…that it is, indeed”).

    –Tommy