Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
The Board of Trustees held its annual October meeting on campus last week, from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 17. As expected, the majority of the Board's time was spent deliberating its decision to establish a College of Management, which I shared with you on Saturday shortly after the meeting concluded. Below is a brief summary of the other important business the Board conducted during its time on campus.
On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Board approved proceeding with several significant facilities projects that are in various stages. A renovation of Roberts Hall will commence this December. The $13.7 million project will transform the residential space from antiquated dorm rooms to contemporary suites, including adding air conditioning, new all-gender restrooms and much-needed student hearth space. We will also bring the building into ADA compliance, which will include the addition of an elevator. We expect to complete the work on Roberts Hall in August 2016.
The Board also approved financial support for conceptual and design work for several other significant facilities projects. Academic East, which will sit across from Academic West, will include new classrooms and state-of-the-art lab space for Engineering, with a particular focus on Biomedical Engineering and the WE DO Campaign's Human Health Initiative. The proposed 72,000-square-foot building will also provide a new home for our Department of Education, allowing for subsequent renovations to the Olin Science and Rooke Chemistry Buildings to, in part, accommodate changes in science lab pedagogy.
As I've previously shared with you, I have engaged the Board in a conversation about a Bucknell Humanities Center — a concept the Board has fully embraced. As such, it approved moving forward with design work that would enable us to repurpose the Delta Upsilon fraternity house for a facility to house the Humanities Center. It is important to note that the formation of a Humanities Center will not wait for a physical space; I have fully funded the Humanities Council's programming proposal for the next three years.
Finally, with the creation of a College of Management, the Board approved proceeding with the design phase of a new Management facility. A compelling suggestion from one of our Board members, one that offers exciting and distinctive interdisciplinary opportunities, is a joint facility for both the College and our Department of Art & Art History. That would add various complexities and significant costs to the project, but with the Board's enthusiasm, we will further explore this possibility.
At its February 2015 meeting, on top of a regular, annual increase to the faculty and staff compensation pool, the Board accepted the administration's recommendation that an additional 0.75% of the faculty wage pool be set aside to address the outcomes of the Faculty Total Compensation Study. I am pleased to report that the Board voted last week to double that amount to 1.5%. After review by the Deans, these additional funds will be allocated to faculty positions identified as being compensated at less than the median of similar cohorts at institutions that participated in the Sibson study. The Board continues to support the University's overarching goal of moving faculty salaries to no less than 100% of the median value of the study group. For those impacted, the salary increases will be retroactive to Sept. 1. This is an important moment in the evolution of our faculty compensation initiative and a significant investment by the Board in our faculty.
I would like to thank our colleagues for attending various committee and open meetings as representatives of the faculty, including: Prof. Kim Daubman, faculty chair; Prof. Tom Cassidy, faculty secretary; and Profs. Jan Knoedler, Greg Krohn, Nancy White, Sue Ellen Henry, Erin Jablonski and Mitch Chernin. I also hope those of you who attended Friday night's Academic Year Celebration Dinner enjoyed it as much as I did. It was wonderful to publicly recognize our 2015 teaching award winners and appointees to named fellowships, professorships and chairs. In addition, we celebrated our faculty and staff colleagues who recently published creative works, and those whose scholarly pursuits and research were awarded external funding. We also welcomed our new faculty members and paid tribute to four exemplary alumni for their contributions both to Bucknell and to society as a whole.
This is a special moment in Bucknell's history. I feel significant and mounting momentum toward a truly distinctive and sustainable institution. The path to that ultimate destination is filled with challenges, but confronting them will enable us to move forward. Together — and only together — we will succeed in forging the best, most authentic version of Bucknell.