Annual town hall meeting held for spring semester

Photo credit: Paul Wintruba

Photo credit: Paul Wintruba

Brittany Mayer

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The Town Hall Meeting for “Robert Morris University 2016 and Beyond” was held in the International Suite of the Charles L. Sewall Center from 9 to 11 a.m. on March 3.

The meeting started off with a few words from University President, Christopher B. Howard, introducing himself to the audience attending.

“I hope that as an organization we (the community) will grow over time,” said Howard, “I hope that I am not leading exactly the same way in three, four, five, ten years from now.”

President Howard started by giving a background of himself and describing some people in leadership positions to whom he looks up to. His list consisted of: Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Howard’s mother. He then went to the audience to have three of them share some people they look up to.

“That’s leadership,” said Howard when speaking about his list, “The phenomenal leadership that when the odds are against you, you keep going.”

From there, the meeting went on to President Howard giving his impression on the Robert Morris University culture. He has enjoyed the RMU culture in his 34 days as president, and he mentioned liking the dynamic of the university and how it differs from other campuses he has worked on.

“How do things really work here?” said Howard, “They don’t tell you that. You have to figure it out, and that is why I’m getting a Ph.D. in RMU.”

The meeting then moved to the subject of the university itself. At the moment, RMU has an acceptance rate of 76 percent and an alumni giving rate of 6 percent. The retention rate for freshman, meaning those students move on to sophomore year, is at 80 percent and the 6 year graduation rate is at 6.2 percent.

Howard would like to see all of these percentages go up in his time as president, and is looking forward to working with the staff and students to see what can be improved. The school is also looking at comparative schools to see what works and what RMU can change. There was also mention of the budget as currently, RMU is about equal in the amount of revenue it is receiving and the amount of expenses. In the future, that could change, so the President and his team have been minding the gap.

“It makes very good sense that you would increase your expenses to match your revenue,” said Howard, “but, as you look out, the concern is that if we keep our revenue in the trajectory it is in now, our revenue flattens out…”

In June, the President will be meeting with the Board to make sure the university is keeping on track financially and finding out where they want to be in the future.

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