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.     

SGA President Haefner champions SSA redistribution

The Student Success Act proposal that has been approved unanimously by the committee and presented to the SGA Senate gets back to the original focus of the Student Success Act. When this Act was put into place, it was a time when the State government was looking at cutting funding in universities. The student leaders of that time along with administration sat down to find a way that campus services would not vanish. The original “Save Our School” Act was to fund Recreation Services, Center for Academic Support, Student Success and Advising, Student Life and Leadership, and Career Services. Any excess money would be held back into a holding account in case of a decrease in enrollment. (I took these directly from the signed bill on April 2, 2012). The fee was passed by the Board of Governors and put into place, but then the budget cuts did not occur. There was nothing written in to the proposal to discuss what would occur with the funds if the budget cuts did not occur. Over the next four years, the funds were appropriated based on many different ways. This year’s proposal that the committee has approved will fund the student labor and operating budgets of many different “student services” for at least the next three years. It will then be up to be reviewed Fall 2019. The departments benefitting from this fund will be the Center for Academic Support, Student Success, Recreation Services, Esry Health Center, Center for Multicultural Education, Center for Student Involvement, International Student Services, and Career Services, again conforming to the original services that were to be saved under the original act. Missouri Western will still cover the Personnel, Fringe Benefits, and Travel budgets of the departments that were listed above. The SSA funds will also fund student tickets at all MWSU Theatre productions and $1 per student per fiscal year will be appropriated towards the Student Capital Fund. The Student Capital Fund will be used to fund things the students want and can be accumulated over many years. This proposal removes the “Us vs. Them,” “students vs. administration” mentality that has become a focus of the Student Success Act. Now we are back to working for the same goal, to help fund student services.

Missouri considers guns on college campuses

Guns may be coming to campuses all across Missouri in the near future. Senate Bill 731 and its identical House Bill 1910 would remove the current ban on conceal and carry weapons on college campuses. This means that anyone aged 19 and above who completes the required courses and registration associated with conceal and carry in the state would be legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon onto college campuses. Risk Manager for Missouri Western, Tim Kissock, said that the university is content with current laws, but would follow any new laws if the university had to. “We will certainly do whatever the legislature requires us to do and we’ll do it in good faith,” Kissock said. “We do feel that guns are a complex issue and right now conceal and carry weapons are not allowed on campus, and we are certainly not pushing for any changes to that legislation. We’re happy where we are right now.” Kissock also said that special operations of colleges and universities warrant them being protected against conceal and carry laws. “It’s an education setting,” Kissock said. “There are a lot of debates; there are a lot of young people, people living in the dorms. The reality is that there is drinking and some amount of drugs on every campus. To throw guns into that situation, on balance, we think would not make the campus community a safer place.” Besides allowing guns into classrooms, one of the major things that this legislation would do is allow guns to be brought into the homes of those who live on campus. Director of Residential Life Nathan Roberts said that the training provided to Resident Assistants would not change despite the change to guns laws in the state. “From our perspective, I don’t think we would do anything differently in how we approach our business of student programming or student conduct violations and those types of things,” Roberts said. “I don’t think it changes how we do business. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I think that’s going to be determined on how the student population is and how they manage it.” Resident Assistant and Shotgun Club President Matt Scholz said the training provided to those with a conceal and carry license would prevent some problems with guns from happening. “It would probably affect my position for the fact that there would be firearms on campus,” Scholz said. “Now, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if it would be for the worst or the best as an RA. Some situations that do happen in residential life could involve an RA being at the wrong end of a firearm in some situations and other situations could end up being just fine. I would assume that nothing would go wrong, considering you have people who would have taken CCW classes.” The bill does allow for universities to opt out of allowing the conceal and carry access if it can provide a safe environment. This includes installing metal detectors in building entrances and having guards scan people as they come into the building. For universities like Missouri Western, Kissock said, the exemption is not possible. “It’s really not feasible. It’s cost prohibitive. I think we’ve done some estimates on it and the cost was in excess of $10 million dollars,” Kissock said. “My understanding is that if you don’t want to allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus, then you have to set up those security procedures and quite frankly, it wouldn’t work here. We don’t have the money to make it work.” The exemption would also require the same requirements of the residence halls. Residential Hall Director Roberts cited the same burden of cost as Kissock. “I don’t see those as real feasible depending on what type of circumstance you’re in and certainly not for the residence halls,” Roberts said. “That’s not something that we would have the money or the staff to do.” If the legislation was put into effect, it is unlikely that Missouri Western would qualify for exemption and would be required to allow conceal and carry on campus. Despite some concerns with the legislation, Kissock said that things would work out and MWSU would comply with state law. “It certainly won’t be the end of the world. We’ll make it work,” Kissock said. “I anticipate initially there will be a lot of people that will maybe be afraid or concerned to be sitting in classrooms and have people carrying guns. I think it would certainly keep our campus police a little more active, going around and making sure people who have the weapons are properly licensed. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict what will happen in the future and I guess that’s one reason why we’re not crazy about changing, is that we don’t know what will happen.”

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.