During the last Associated Students of USF meeting for this academic year, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Heller spoke to ASUSF on his recent work, and members of senate approved the final resolutions of the school year.
Provost Heller began working at USF at the beginning of the second semester this academic year. Heller spoke to senate on his responsibilities as Provost, including the various projects he’s been working on and university-related concerns he intends to address.
“The way I often explain it to people is if you think of USF as a business, and you think of Father Fitzgerald as the CEO of that business, well then the Provost is like Chief Operating Officer,” he said when explaining his role as Provost. Heller oversees academic affairs, including the five schools and College of Arts and Sciences, as well as student life.
Heller discussed a variety of issues such as housing concerns and mentioned his focus on improving other aspects of student life. Heller explained the plan to build a new residence hall on the east side of Lone Mountain in time for fall of 2019. In addition to that residence hall, Heller discussed another plan to obtain “micro-dorms” of 30-60 beds on or near campus, in which the University would buy nearby properties to convert into residence hall beds within the next few years.
“Our goal is within a few years to be able to guarantee housing to every student through at least sophomore year,” he said. Heller explained that he believes this will help with student recruitment and retention.
Also during the meeting, ASUSF members approved the final resolutions of the academic year. Senate approved the ASUSF Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 and passed a resolution calling for gender neutral bathrooms in the Market Cafe. Senate moved to postpone action on an on-campus Greek Housing resolution until next year.
In a review of senate’s work throughout the spring semester, ASUSF had a special election, hosted several events such as the ASUSF 2020 Vision Mission Forum, and brought numerous resolutions forward.
ASUSF’s 2020 Vision was approved by the undergraduate student body during spring Dons Elections and represents senate’s plan to improve various aspects of student life over the next three years. The 2020 Vision also includes a Student Activity Fee increase of $8 per year, from 2017-2020. This approval marked the first time a student activity fee increase was successfully passed after failing to be approved in previous elections.
In addition, Senior Class Representative Jonathan Munoz, along with members of USF’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), introduced the Magis Scholarship Fund. This fund was approved in the undergraduate Dons Election, and will now be reviewed by the Board of Trustees to determine its implementation. The Magis Scholarship Fund calls for $4.00 of tuition money each academic year, to be reallocated into a fund to support undocumented students who demonstrate financial need, but are unable to apply for federal financial aid.
Students also voted to expand the Night Safety Program in this year’s Spring election, which would replace the two existing shuttle vans and provide funds for an additional van to transport extra students.
Current Vice President of Mission Shaya Kara was elected to senate executive president, and will begin the position in the fall. Also elected to the executive board are Francesca Bitton as VP of internal affairs, Henna Samtani as VP of Finance, Ashley Lynn Simon as VP of public relations, and Sean McCarthy as VP of advocacy.
Assistant Director for Campus Engagement Brittany Sanguma commended senate’s work and efforts throughout the school year.
“This year was a really strong year, I want to affirm the work of each one of you; elections, budget process, getting record-breaking turnouts in multiple ways, more resolutions than ever and more coming in,” said Sanguma. “Thank you all for your work and making really meaningful work in what it means to be a senator and member of ASUSF senate in representing your constituencies.”