MISSOULA — On Friday morning, the University of Montana's Design Team Committee met in an online forum to hear community feedback about UM's long-term success.
The committee was created last spring by President Seth Bodnar to not only discuss the University's current successes, but to help maintain relevance nationwide in the future.
During a question period, many community members raised concerns about the new fall plan and how UM will prepare for adequate social distancing.
Adrea Lawrence, the UMDesign Team's co-chair and dean of the Phyllis Washington College of Education, said decals and arrows have been placed in her building to direct foot traffic. Classrooms also have properly socially distanced desks.
“Campus holistically has been very attentive to this and has taken a variety of actions to make sure we are mitigating the spread of the virus in the ways that we can," said Lawrence.
Lawrence wants to remind the public that the University's Fall 2020 Healthy Plan is available on UM's website. It has details about the actions UM is taking to ensure student and staff safety.
Another question raised was how economic development districts can better collaborate with UM to help the communities in need of a boost in economy. UMDesign Co-chair Paul Gladen explained that there is always room to improve.
“There is ongoing collaboration between economic communities and um across the state like all things we can do better and would like to do better in that area and we will continue to do more impactful things," said Gladen.
A community member asked how UM is assisting students who are incapable of affording textbooks and then due to that having to drop out and Lawrence says that UM has an emergency fund for students and the UM Pantry which offers free food for those struggling with food insecurity.
“The UM foundation specifically has been successful to raise funds for scholarships and impact funds to attend to emergency like we are facing now for students," said Lawrence.
However there was an important question posed by Wilena Old Person, a Missoula County Schools Board of Trustee and a member of the university’s Diversity Advisory committee about how the university is implementing inclusion, diversity equity and inclusion for BIPOC groups.
“We are two silo-ed on different work that is happening around campus and we need it be more centralized and we cannot just focus on our largest minority group. And yes I am a part of that population, American Indians, but we do have other BIPOC members on campus we can't just pick and choose it has to be across the board," said Person.
The committee says they will bring the feedback and concerns to UM’S President Seth Bodnar in August.