May 1, 2013: Spring Board of Trustees Update
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
I write to share with you a summary of the most recently completed Board of Trustees meeting. The general meeting was held on campus from Thursday night, April 25, through Saturday morning, April 27. The Annual Business Meeting was held on Saturday morning. Enclosed with this cover letter are summaries from the committee meetings. Please click here to read.
My thanks to the members of the faculty who attended various meetings at which they represented the faculty: Prof. Roger Rothman, the secretary of the faculty and interim chair of the faculty and Faculty Council; Prof. Pam Gorkin, a member of Faculty Council; Prof. Linda Smolka, who attended the Academic Affairs and Campus Life Committee meeting; Profs. Joe Meiser and Jessica Newlin, who attended the Development and External Relations Committee meeting; and Profs. Peter Brooksbank and Geoff Schneider, who attended the Finance Committee meeting. I am also grateful for the wonderful attendance on Friday evening for the Faculty–Trustee Academic Dinner as we celebrated the promotions of 26 faculty.
This meeting marked the retirement of seven trustees, in keeping with the board's policies on trustee service. Across their decades of service, these seven trustees have given of their time, talent and treasure to the board and the University in numerous ways. They are Susan Crawford '69, Bill Dearstyne '62 P'89, Ben Elliott '66 P'00 P'03, Bill Graham '62, Linda Greenberg '63, John Mathias '69 M'72 and Scott Nichols '70 P'03. The board elected each of these individuals to trustee emeriti status.
Two of these trustees, Bill Dearstyne and Bill Graham, recently made major gifts that we were pleased to announce to the board. Together they pledged $9 million towards the campaign, targeted for a combination wrestling center and athletics leadership facility that this dual contribution will fully fund. Besides providing a training space for our Division I men's wrestling team, the facility will allow us to bring together work of numerous co-curricular programs that support leadership experiences for our students and provide additional classroom and seminar space for campus use. Construction of this building, which will extend from the east side of Sojka Pavilion (toward 7th Street), is anticipated to be completed by December 2014. Our thanks to these two trustees for this extraordinary generosity on behalf of Bucknell.
We were also pleased to announce that a trustee who prefers to remain anonymous at this time recently pledged $1.4 million to the University. These types of gifts from our trustees provide a powerful example of giving as we talk with other donors about their campaign interests.
I am pleased to share with you that the board also elected two new trustees, effective July 1, 2013: Susan Ginkel '76 and Christopher Sullivan '92.
Saturday's open board meeting featured a presentation by Vice President for Enrollment Management Bill Conley on our enrollment management practices and goals. As the demographics of America change, we must change how and where we recruit students. Our goals include expanding Bucknell's reach into new markets, such as the south and west; increasing our applicant pool to expand the numbers of qualified students we can recruit from all backgrounds; and bringing the message of Bucknell's offerings to its admissions audiences with increasingly segmented messages that speak to our many strengths and resonate with students' evolving college interests and goals.
Bill also reported exciting results on the recruitment of Presidential Fellows for the incoming class of 2017. These awards are based on academic merit and provide $20,000 scholarships and a $1,500 scholarship stipend that are renewed annually based on student performance. This year, we invited 350 applicants to apply for Presidential Fellows' consideration and received 269 applications, a 76% yield, far beyond the 56% yield last year. Of the 144 students offered scholarships, we are excited to report that 32 have indicated they will be enrolling, compared with 18 last year.
Saturday's open board meeting also included a presentation on enterprise risk management (ERM) by the highly regarded firm Grant Thornton. In their presentation they summarized the results of their discussions since last fall with individuals and groups across campus about Bucknell's risk profile. It is clear that while numerous ERM practices are in place in various offices, we have much to do to make these practices a regular and comprehensive part of campus business. That is the standard we must set for ourselves if we are to protect and strengthen Bucknell, its quality and its reputation for decades to come. As the ERM work with Grant Thornton continues, we will be asking many offices and colleagues for their help in reaching that goal. More about the ERM initiative can be found below in the Audit, Compliance and Risk Management Committee summary.
On Friday, the board discussed information and concern that the University administration shared about House Party Weekend and the setting it has become for frequent high-risk and otherwise unacceptable behavior by some students and visitors. We also reported to the board on the University's work to offer alternative activities during that weekend.
In Executive Session and later with several key staff and myself in attendance, the board engaged in a candid and thorough discussion of its views about House Party Weekend and its place in the life of Bucknell. As you know, a large number of trustees were members of fraternities and sororities as undergraduates at Bucknell. As I have done in numerous settings, they too have expressed strongly their desire to strengthen the Greek system at Bucknell. They fully appreciate that House Party Weekend in many ways undermines the reputation not only of Bucknell but also of the entire Greek system.
Following its extensive discussion of these matters, the board concluded that it wanted to convey its views through a formal resolution. The resolution, which was passed unanimously, expresses the board's "utmost seriousness" of concern about House Party Weekend and its support for the administration taking whatever steps may be necessary to address this matter. With the views of the board in mind, we will be evaluating House Party Weekend and its role in the life of our students and Bucknell's educational mission. We are aware of the strong feelings – pro and con – that many have about House Party Weekend and intend to be deliberate and thorough in our decision-making.
As the academic year comes to a close, though, we turn ourselves to more immediate matters and the end of a year featuring the start of Bucknell life for the Class of 2017, the launch of the public phase of the WE DO campaign, great progress on completing Academic West, and countless moments of teaching, advising, help and encouragement that you have given our students. I know finals, grading, end-of-semester projects, planning for Commencement and numerous other obligations place considerable demands on your time. Thank you for all you have done to help the Class of 2013 reach this momentous time in their lives, and for all you are doing to prepare all our students for the future. I wish you the best as the semester concludes.