By Ted Yoakum Staff Reporter For many Broncos, summertime is a period of academic freedom. Clear of the steady deluge of exams, term papers and reading assignments, Western Michigan University students are able to focus their entire attention elsewhere, whether that be spending time at home with loved ones, picking up extra hours at their job, or simply hanging outside and enjoying the toasty weather. For WMU President John Dunn, though, class is still very much in session. “I’m constantly amazed, when I get my coffee in the morning, and I’m standing in line, someone tells me, ‘It must be nice now, the students are finished, things are calm,’” Dunn said. “It really never stops. The university is 24/7, it’s year round.” Between overseeing the various construction projects taking place throughout campus and the continuing work on WMU’s School of Medicine, there’s plenty of work to keep administrators busy over the next four months. While it may seem that juggling these tasks all at once would result in about as much success as Sisyphus had with his boulder, President Dunn said he is confident that his administration will be able to weather the storm and come out ahead. Inaugurated in 2007, Dunn is currently the eighth president in the history of the university. Dunn has over 30 years of service in the field of education, including previous stints as interim chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and as associate provost at Oregon State University. Recently, Dunn has been heavily involved with the creation of WMU’s new medical school, a partnership between WMU, Bronson Hospital and Borgess Medical Center. In March 2011, Dunn unveiled the $100 million donation to the school during the “Operation Historic Moment” announcement, which is the 15th largest donation ever given to a public university. While the medical school is still a far way away from accepting students, leaders from all three organizations are hard at work getting the facility in order prior to its expected 2014 opening. Along with the inclusion of 61 new faculty members to be hired before the Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies is finalized in July, WMU is in the process of repurposing the structure that will house the medical school, located in downtown Kalamazoo at the corner of Lovell and Portage. “We have some good schematic and design features on that building now. It going to be a marvelous structure when it’s done,” Dunn said. The medical school building is not the only university-owned location that will be swamped by men with hard hats and jackhammers this summer though. Over the next few months, construction of the new Sangren Hall is expected to wrap up, Dunn said, bringing a close to a project that spanned multiple years and funding setbacks. The school will also break ground on a number of new structures over the coming weeks. WMU is moving ahead on plans for a new expansion to the Western View apartment complex in order to address the massive demand for rooms the building has generated since opening last fall, Dunn said. In addition, construction will begin on a new facility for the school’s historical archives, providing state-of-the-art temperature and humidity controls, massive storage shelving, and rooms for students to study. Perhaps the most prominent summer project is the construction of the pedestrian mall outside of the new Sangren Hall. Current plans call for a radical transformation of the walkways leading up to the new structure, adding new walkways and landscaping to the area. “The plans that are going into the new pedestrian mall will be low maintenance, very attractive, but sustainable,” Dunn said. The planned centerpiece of the walkway will be a small stream of water that crosses underneath the two parallel paths. “Water is the great healer; it’s the soothing element. Most people recognize that,” Dunn said. “We want to bring that water, to give [the mall] more of a signature look and feel.” Dunn said he envisions that the walkway will even improve the health of the student population by further encouraging them to travel on foot while scuttling between classes. “A little more walking for all us of is good in many directions,” Dunn said. “We can’t change our DNA, but we can do a lot to change our own overall health status. While at first glance it seems rather unusual that a university president is concerned with the physical condition of his charges, the subject of health science is hardly foreign to Dunn. Throughout his professional career, the educator has written extensively on the topic, especially on the long term health for people with disabilities. Another idea Dunn has toyed around with in recent years is the addition of an internal biking system. Students could borrow bicycles from stations placed around campus, using them to get to their next destination before dropping it off for another student to use. “Maybe someday, with the [Western Student Association’s] help, we pilot that to see if that could work,” Dunn said. Looming over these initiatives, along with others the administration is considering, are concerns over state funding, which has fallen dramatically in recent years. Though Dunn is confident that Lansing will allocate more tax dollars to WMU over the next year, it’s still a far cry from the amount of monetary support the government formerly gave the school. “In 1980, when you came here, for every dollar spent by the university, 75 cents came from the state of Michigan. Today, 26 cents comes from the state of Michigan,” Dunn added. “There’s been a phenomenal shift in who’s carrying that burden. It’s today’s students, their loved ones and their family that’s carrying that burden.” In response to the state cuts, Dunn’s administration has made dramatic changes not just to tuition rates, but also toward internal spending costs. The school is facing a potential decline in admission from in-state students, though Dunn hopes to offset those losses by increasing enrollment of international students. Despite these setbacks, Dunn remains optimistic that the university will be able to expand in light of lower state support. “You don’t want to use all your energy up on worries. We need to be very mindful of our opportunities,” Dunn said. “You cannot cut your way of [crisis]. You have to make some investments.