Chats with Matt

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By: Christian Sarna

This week’s Chats with Matt discusses recent employment cuts, setting the record straight on Fall break and winning song association at the Western Voice.

How can you justify new expenses when we are cutting student and full-time positions?

During the last week of October, 14 university employees were let go. Another 21 vacant positions were removed. In addition to these cuts, student employees in multiple departments were recently given notice that they will not have a job in the coming semester. With these cuts to faculty, staff and student employees, some students are asking why new initiatives are being funded.

One of these initiatives includes the creation of an eSports program similar to the program Wilson created at the University of Akron. According to Wilson, these new initiatives will more than pay for themselves with increases in retention and recruitment.

“These are all investments in students that are designed to attract and to keep student here,” Wilson said. “I think the other universities might be a little scared in terms of the leaps and bounds that we’re taking here because they’re student friendly initiatives.”

Some students have asked whether cuts to staff and faculty are truly beneficial to the university. Wilson said that while the recent changes might be uncomfortable for students, the changes were made for their benefit.

“My only agenda is students and helping the university survive and thrive,” Wilson said. “Hopefully student retention will be up, hopefully the students are happier. That will help offset some of the cuts that have gone on.”

For more information about the recent cuts, see the front page story in issue eight of the Griffon News.

Are there any rumors going around campus that you’d like to address?

With many real changes occurring on campus, Wilson said that he had encountered a few rumors causing needless worries.

“Someone had said that you can’t paint a wall unless you have the president’s approval of a certain color,” Wilson said. “Number one, you don’t want me to do any interior decorating at all because I stink at it. Two, no ones ever talked to me about paint.” 

Aside from this design concern, Wilson said that his idea for a split fall break in future years had been misconstrued as an attempt to get rid of the break entirely.

“If you’ve got a three day break in September, four days in October, five days in November and then you’ve got a longer break after that, it may work a little bit better,” Wilson said. “I made the reasonable suggestion to someone that maybe we could rethink this. We literally had to send a memo out to say that I wasn’t canceling Thanksgiving.” 

Wilson said that any changes to fall break would not occur this year and he was still asking students for input on the issue.

How was the Western Voice?

The finale of the Western Voice, a singing competition modeled after NBC’s “The Voice,” took place on Nov. 6. Junior Jordan Jennings was awarded first place with a $1,000 prize. Several intermissions during the show were spent playing Song Association, a game where two contestants race to think of a song containing a particular word. One participant was President Wilson, who sang a bar from “Sweet Caroline” and the Madagascar movie theme. According to Wilson, his unplanned participation was the least he could do to show support for the finalists.

“It was fun to see the four finalists and everything that they had put into that — it takes a lot of courage to get up in front of your peers and sing, to be evaluated and to be critiqued,” Wilson said. “I didn’t expect to be called up on stage, but the competitive nature of me? At least I won the game.”

Have a question, comment or concern for President Wilson? You can submit them directly to his office at According to Wilson, he views every submission personally. For a chance to have your questions answered in the newspaper, send a direct message to @Sarna_GN on Twitter, a message to The Griffon News on Facebook or email