Cronkite in the Theatre

Visitors of the Cronkite memorial can now see Walter Cronkite come to life as the third and final installation of the Cronkite plays hits the stage. Gordon Mapley, Dean and Executive Director of Western Institute was excited to announce the touring of the Cronkite trilogy as the university works to bring the final play to life. "The third play is based upon Martin Luther King and Walter Cronkite. They are auditioning actors right now for the role of Martin Luther King. They have been in contact with the King family and will send them a video of a read-through of the play. The hope is that the King family will approve this third play; if they do, that will become a part of Phase 4. When they celebrate Cronkite’s 100 year anniversary of his birth, they will perform all three plays,” Mapley said. The plays are scheduled to be performed in a variety of venues, including Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, The Truman Library in Independance, Missoouri, and Lincoln Center in New York. The final performance in New York City will allow all three of the Cronkite children as well as CBS president, Leslie Moonves to be in attendance. In addition to the live plays, the Cronkite memorial is home to several artifacts serving as a reminder for aspiring journalists to make ethical decisions in their professional careers. "Current journalists give slanted view of news, what is going on in the world; Walter Cronkite stood for the opposite of that.  He wanted to make sure people had the facts and that they were delivered as facts and not as opinions. He stood for educational integrity and people being able to make up their own minds about what is happening in the world. Having the memorial here is a constant reminder of that," Mapley said. The annual Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics and Journalistic Integrity is set to coincide with Cronkite's 100th birthday celebration on Nov. 6. Robert Vartabedian, President of Missouri Western State University, is thrilled to bring the life and times of Cronkite to the stage. “We not only have the memorial, which is, I think, the finest museum honoring Walter Cronkite in the world right on our campus, but we also have live shows as capstone experiences to visiting the museum," Vartabedian said. “I think Walter Cronkite becomes particularly important in  today's world, given where journalism has gone since he died in 2009. I think he was a stickler for double-checking facts, verifying his sources, not editorializing, unless he clearly stated. They refer to him as the “gold standard” that I don’t think we will ever quite match.”    

Phase four of Cronkite Exhibit to be ‘Out of this World’

As a wise man once said, “The profession of journalism ought to be about telling people what they need to know—not what they want to know.” This man was the most trusted man in America. This man was Walter Cronkite Western is home to a museum that pays tribute to Walter Cronkite’s life-long accomplishments. The museum holds various displays, including a replica of Cronkite's CBS newsroom as well as a timeline of his life. Soon, however, there will be even more. Gordon Mapley, Dean and Executive Director of Western Institute, has played an active roll in obtaining items for the museum.  “The Briscoe Museum in Texas, which has a number of items that belonged to Walter Cronkite, did some remodeling. They have been a partner with us all along in this; they have let us borrow some things from them the last few years," Mapley said.  In addition to the items from the Briscoe Museum, the museum also holds other valuables of the renowned journalist, generously donated by Cronkite's daughter, Kate Cronkite. University President Robert Vartabedian was pleased with the overall support and donations from the Briscoe Museum as well as the Cronkite family. “Between the Cronkite family and the University of Texas, Briscoe Center for American History, who have both been very, very generous with us, we just have a lot of one-of-a-kind artifacts that we’re displaying in the memorial,” Vartabedian said. According to Mapley, the major addition to phase 4 of renovations to the exhibit will be a representation of Apollo 11. The display is expected to be completed  by Nov. 4, in conjunction with the celebration of Cronkite's 100th birthday. “Most of the work of art is being done by Eric Fuson, who is our artist of residence. We will see a huge plume coming out of the floor.  At the very top where the skylights are, you will see a little model of Apollo 11. The base will look like the moon. [It will be] a representation of the flight,” Mapley said. Additional kiosks will also be a key player in the phase 4 renovations. Each Kiosk will be placed outside the theater, giving teasers for each of the three Cronkite showcase productions. Mapley continued, “Right from the beginning, when the President and I first talked about the Walter Cronkite memorial, one of the things that I thought we should do is to put three different components into the kiosk.” The first two components are complete and based on stories told by Cronkite through the years. Currently, the work of art on the wall in the museum includes 39 stories that Walter Cronkite reported on. For each of those 39 stories, there is a matching icon on the kiosk. If visitors push the icon, they will hear Walter Cronkite give the news report about that event.  A second component is that visitors can hear Walter Cronkite reflect on that event in a video series he did several years later. The third component, which is in progress and needs editing, is a synopsis of the historical context surrounding these events so that visitors can understand their relevance in history. Steve Greiert, professor emeritus of history, wrote longer versions of these items and is slated to edit them down to 20-40 second summaries to be available at the kiosks.     

Departments uncertain about SSA increase

The proposed SSA budget would bring raises to many Student and Academic Affairs departments, but until the plan goes through, there are no definite plans for how to use that money. The SSA proposal would cover the student labor and operational costs associated with the departments, but would also provide raises to those departments. No department requested the increased funding they would receive under the SSA allocation. They also were not consulted about the amount they were to be allocated either until after the budgeting process was completed. The amount of increased funding to the different student and academics affairs departments varies from department to department. For instance, Esry would receive a $6,000 boost to its budget and Recreational Services would see a $7,000 increase. The Center for Student Involvement would receive a $25,040 raise under the proposal, while the Center for Multicultural Education would receive a $23,300 increase. Assistant Dean of Student Development Isaiah Collier said CSI would probably use the extra money for student events. “Hypothetically, if it did go through and the president did sign off on it, one of the many things that I would love to do is increase leadership programs here, but also have more programs that students can socialize to further engage in the Missouri Western experience,” Collier said. CME Coordinator Latoya Fitzpatrick said that her department has no definitive plans for the increase as of yet. “I haven’t really planned out what I’m going to use that money for until I know for sure that it’s solid,” Fitzpatrick said. Fitzpatrick said CME would most likely use the funds to bring in speakers. Director of the Career Development Center Kay-lynne Taylor said her department is underfunded and the money would benefit from the department’s $32,000 raise. “We have so many, many different programs that we don’t have anymore because we are so short funded,” Taylor said. “We get a budget that is from the university that is from institutional dollars anyway. So if there is any additional [dollars], that would be great and that would go toward our students.” Until the SSA proposal is approved by SGA and signed by the university president and that funding is secured, many of the departments who would utilize the additional funds will likely have no concrete plans on how to spend it.

Administration Unsure of SSA Savings too

“The administration doesn’t even know where it’s going at this point, because it’s just this sum of money. They can’t even start to think about where to put the money because it hasn’t been approved. If it’s approved, then they can start to think about where to put the money.” SGA President Ida Haefner said this in relation to the $200,000 that Missouri Western would save annually under her proposed Student Success Act proposal that takes over some of the costs associated with Student and Academic Affairs departments. Under the SSA proposal, the university’s savings would come from the student fee covering the student labor and operating costs associated with nine student-related departments to save the university $195,560. An additional $4,440 of SSA fee money would go directly to the university to save it an even $200,000. Vice President of Financial Planning Dr. Cale Fessler, who reviewed the budget after it was drafted, said that the $200,000 that gets freed up would go back into the university’s general operating budget. “These funds are provided through the university’s general operating budget, so those funds would go back to the general operating budget for the university,” Fessler said. Aside from going to the university’s operational budget, the savings have not been marked for any certain projects or expenses. “We haven’t come up with any new $200,000 a year projects to take these funds at this point of time,” Fessler said. “That’s as much a function of our budget and revenue and expense side of things right now as anything else. Certainly the operating budget savings are very helpful to us, no question, but we don’t have any specific project lined out that those would go to or any ongoing expenditure that we would be taking on.” Fessler cited health insurance increase, utilities and raises for faculty and staff as possible outlets for the saved money, but because of the nature of the operational budget, could not provide any more specifics about where exactly the saved money was going. However this money is spent, the administration is confident that it will benefit students. “Really all the dollars that the university spends, whether it be operational or auxiliary or in the residence halls or things like that, I believe are in support of students,” Fessler said. “Sometimes, when you look at the general operating budget, it may not be as direct of an impact, or easily explained as a direct impact... There are so many ways that we allocate those funds that overall, because again we are here to serve the students and keeping the educational institution operational and being able to provide an education. I think really it provides us the opportunity to operate and it’s helpful to us.” Vice President Shana Meyer who oversees SGA where the legislation was proposed expressed similar sentiments. “Everything the university does benefits the students,” Meyer said. Haefner said that her proposal returns to the original intention of the student-imposed fee and in the end benefits the students as well. “The way that I view it when we go through it is this fee was put into place to save the student services. We’re saving the student services. It’s doing what it meant to be,” Haefner said. “It wasn’t meant to be this pot of money that went to certain places on campus, like to rebuild things. It was meant to help save the leadership and development services and all that sort of thing. Now, it going there, instead of to fix a building or renovate a building, which also needs to be done, but should you’re student fees be going toward that? This is more of a thing that encompasses all students because it’s something that all students can use.”

A Brief History of Student Success

The Student Success Act, signed into action in 2012, is a Student Government legislation that outlines a $75 a semester fee for certain student services and a committee to oversee the allocation of funding. The program was initially created to cover a possible cut in state education funding. If a funding cut had been enacted, student services— Esry Health center, Center for Multicultural Education, etc.— would be the first areas from which the Missouri Western would pull funding. However, those state budget cuts never passed the Missouri Governor’s desk and the administration was able to continue funding student services; so, SGA and the Western administration was left with a significant amount of money for which they had no plan. That wasn’t until Jacob Scott, 2012-2013 President of SGA, proposed a program that would use the nearly $500,000 in annual funds to provide additional budgets for student services; but, his proposal included departments like Parking Services, Baker Fitness Center and additional money toward Blum renovations. Scott’s proposal was approved and amended the program one year later, by 2013-2014 President of SGA Katy Sisco, who approved a proposal-based system for SSA. This is the current status of the SSA program, and it allows university departments, students and administrators to draft proposals for what they would like done with the fee money. In previous years, SSA funding has gone to projects such as funding for Blum renovations. Last year, money was allocated to partially fund Looney pool renovations.