Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I write to share with you a summary of the most recently completed Board of Trustees meeting. This meeting was held at the Marriott Hotel at the Newark Airport, to facilitate attendance for board members who typically travel considerable distances to attend this relatively short meeting. The meeting was scheduled to begin on Thursday, January 27 and conclude on Friday, January 28. Due to the heavy snow that Thursday morning, however, numerous trustees were unable to travel to the meeting from their various points of origin across the United States and Europe. We therefore held the business portion of the meeting via conference call and cancelled the business scheduled for Friday. We will take up that business at the spring meeting in April.
My thanks to the members of the faculty who travelled to Newark for our business discussions: Prof. Tony Massoud, chair of the Faculty and Faculty Council; Prof. Tom Cassidy, secretary of the Faculty and Faculty Council; and Prof. Andrea Halpern, a member of the Planning and Budget Committee.
The business discussed was as follows:
Tuition and Fees
At the November meeting, the trustees asked the administration to study a range of limited comprehensive fee increases, with the direction that any increase continue the University's commitment over the last five years to moderate such increases on a year-over-year basis. The University and the trustees remain deeply concerned about the impact on families of increases in the cost of attending Bucknell and ensuring access to a Bucknell education regardless of family financial status. The recommended increase is consistent with the recent discussions of the Trustee Finance Committee and the University Planning and Budget Committee. Consistent with University practice, Vice President of Finance and Administration Dave Surgala will first inform parents of our enrolled students and then the campus about the board's decision regarding the comprehensive fee.
We also remind all students that the Office of Financial Aid, which you can reach at 7-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org, is available to assist you and your family in reviewing and processing applications for aid.
In keeping with the University's commitment to providing competitive salaries and benefits, we continue to analyze the compensation and benefit practices of our peers and competitors and related market conditions. The University has made considerable investments in this area in the past and intends to remain competitive. This approach helps us attract and retain the best and brightest faculty and staff in the highly competitive environment in which Bucknell operates. As the economy continues to improve, the importance of doing so becomes even more imperative.
I am pleased to share with you that the board has agreed to establish a 2.75% salary increase pool for faculty and staff. Deliberations are underway with the appropriate faculty governance committees as to how the percentage will be allocated across faculty positions.
As is done every year, a portion of the staff pool is reserved for wage floor adjustments and promotional or market-driven adjustments throughout the fiscal year. The remaining pool will be available for merit-based adjustments effective July 1, 2011.
In recent years, Bucknell has made tremendous strides in admissions competitiveness through the approach led by Vice President of Enrollment Management Kurt Thiede to recruit students best suited to thrive at Bucknell. At this board meeting, we were able to report that applications to Bucknell rose 10.6% over last year at this time, from 7,106 to 7,857. In addition, early decision applicants rose 22%, from 623 to 759. This is a record early decision group for Bucknell, and is an especially meaningful sign of student interest given the commitment that early decision applicants must make to enrolling here if admitted.
I want to commend the great work of the admissions staff and also underscore the critical role all faculty and staff play in demonstrating Bucknell's continued value to students seeking a superb private higher education experience in a highly competitive environment. Our focus now must be to enroll the finest class of new students yet.
We also are monitoring closely the changing dimensions of our future admissions cohorts, notably demographic and socioeconomic factors in the population from which we recruit students and in the United States as a whole. At the April board meeting, we intend to discuss with the trustees the impact these factors may have on future admissions classes and related admissions practices, and how we plan to meet these challenges.