Western Michigan University President John Dunn says the university is closely watching developments related to a large disturbance near campus.
Dunn was interviewed by WMUK's Gordon Evans, Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Yvonne Zipp and Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Justin Hinkley for WestSouthwest. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety had to use tear gas to break up the large gathering. Dunn says he thinks police handled the situation well. He is disappointed with the way some of the students acted. "We like to remind everyone 'it's a great day to be a Bronco', and there's some days, it's a little less great to be a Bronco." Dunn says students may face discipline from the university, even if they are not convicted of a crime. He says in the future, the university should do a better job of monitoring social media to anticipate big crowds and possible trouble.
During the interview, other topics were discussed.
The Kalamazoo Promise has been getting a wave of national attention lately, including an article in Politico. When asked about Western's role, Dunn says education is the pathway to viability. He says when a students comes to the university because of the scholarship program, "it's the Kalamazoo Promise delivered." When a student graduates from Western, Dunn says "it's the Kalamazoo Promise fulfilled." He says it's interesting to see other communities developing their own versions of the promise.
Dunn says there are no definitive plans to develop land in the downtown area. The university has been looking to buy land near other property that's already been donated to the school. Dunn says the goal is to look at options that can the down area "as attractive as possible."
A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board is allowing football players at Northwestern University to move ahead on a possible players' union. Dunn says he's troubled by the idea of college players unionizing, but he's also concerned about the money being spent by universities on coaches' salaries and other expenses. Dunn says if schools are going to enter an arms race to outspend each other, then it should be asked "what's in it for the student-athletes?" Dunn says the Mid-American Conference is still a model of schools with equal resources that treats its athletes well.
College Affordability and the Value of Education
Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Justin Hinkley asked Dunn about some ideas to make college more affordable. Dunn says the problem is that states have abdicated their responsibility to fund higher education. He says Western is getting the same amount from the state now that it did in 1996. Dunn says that amounts to a tax on a small group of people in the state. He says not only has direct aid been cut, but money for scholarships has also been reduced. Dunn says even with high student debt and costs, a college degree is still valuable. He says lifetime earning potential is far greater with more education.
Medical School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Dunn says the downtown campus of the Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine is on track to open this fall. He says many new developments make it an "opportune time" to launch a medical school. Dunn says there will be less emphasis on mass lectures and more on things like case studies. He says the university is doing its due diligence on the law school, and the process is moving forward.