January 20, 1998
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University President Diether H. Haenicke this week will conduct the first public meeting of his initiative to improve communication between the community and the University, especially among residents of neighborhoods near the campus.
The session will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Fetzer Center at WMU. The initiative is called WMU CARE, which stands for Campus Area Restoration Effort. The agenda is expected to include defining the term "campus area" and making a list of topics to be discussed. Members of the public who wish to attend the meeting should call Andrew Rivers at 387-3614.
Haenicke has invited more than two dozen representatives of neighborhood, student, government and community organizations to participate. He has received what he described as "a tidal wave" of response from persons who are "very eager to become involved in this process."
In a letter to these representatives, Haenicke noted that, in the past, "WMU has occasionally experienced unproductive exchanges of opinion regarding the University's plans for expansion, the impact of a large young student population on residential neighborhoods, its tax exempt status as an institution of higher learning and other issues of this sort."
He concluded the letter by saying, "We deeply regret whatever misconceptions we have allowed to develop, and I think it is time to try to reach better communication and understanding among stakeholders in our community."
In remarks recently to WMU's Faculty Senate, Haenicke said he has three broad objectives for the WMU CARE initiative. They are to:
· Establish a dialogue with the community;
· Develop a plan to assist in the physical restoration of some neighborhoods; and
· Create a venture loan fund that would help individuals to start or develop small businesses.
"I want to establish a dialogue with the community, particularly with our next door neighbors," he said. "As I've said before, we really want to try hard as an institution to see in which ways we can be useful and helpful to the community."
Haenicke said he wants to begin working with groups in the community to restore and preserve neighborhoods near the campus. "These could attract faculty and staff members as well as students to live in them, within walking distance of the campus," he said.
The venture loan initiative, he explained, could help "any person affiliated with the University who is so inclined to get support to start or develop a small business. In these and other ways, I believe, WMU could provide significant economic stimulation to the community."
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA