Message from the Board Chair - 2014 - Strategic Planning Skip Navigation

Letter from the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Denis F. Cronin '69

January 31, 2014
Denis F. Cronin '69
Dear Colgate Colleagues and Friends,

The Board of Trustees met in New York City January 24-25, 2014 for meetings that were very productive thanks to the efforts of so many in the campus community who participated in the strategic planning process. The board approved Colgate University’s Strategic Plan, 2014-2019: Living the Liberal Arts in our Third Century, and it is a pleasure to provide this report summarizing that decision and other actions taken.

The Museum of Modern Art provided a wonderful setting for our first gathering, allowing us to reconnect with a number of trustees emeriti and alumni. We are grateful to Lisa Millman ’96, the museum’s director of development, for her assistance. President Herbst provided guests with an important overview of the Strategic Plan, a document that, as many of you know, can be referenced along with associated materials on the Colgate website at This event connected well to the Plan’s goals of raising funds for a new Center for Art and Culture and forming a task force to develop a concept for new performing arts facilities.

As referenced in my reports over the last two years, throughout the strategic planning process the board received regular updates so we understood the range of ideas and considerations behind the Plan’s focus on four key strategies: A Need-Blind Admission Policy, A Dynamic Curriculum, A Residential Liberal Arts Education, and A Campus for Colgate’s Third Century. In advance of our meeting in New York City the board was invited to provide feedback about the final draft that the faculty endorsed at its November 4, 2013 meeting.

At our meetings we thanked and congratulated President Herbst, members of the President’s Staff, Advisory and Planning Committee and Campus Master Plan Committee who were with us for identifying the opportunities and challenges facing Colgate and liberal arts colleges, and for the focus on the four “big ideas” described above to advance Colgate over the next five years. We devoted a significant amount of time discussing the Campus Master Plan report that was presented by Sasaki and Associates, proposed residential life communities, and the curriculum. The board requested that President Herbst take the next steps to consider the construction of a new dormitory on the hill, improvements in vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and a hydrology plan for Taylor Lake and Payne Creek.

The largest amount of time was spent on the issue of a need-blind admission policy. The concept of moving towards a need-blind admission policy was approved, but the details of that policy will require further discussion. It is clear the Plan’s goals are ambitious, and will require appropriate budget discipline as well as success in fundraising. Decisions for action on specific implementation steps will be made at future meetings as progress is made in these areas. No declaration of the adoption of a need-blind admission policy will be made until the administration and the board are satisfied that all of the necessary conditions for that policy have been met.

We move forward with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm because Colgate has long demonstrated its ability to not just meet but surpass ambitious goals, including the $480 million “Passion for the Climb” campaign and the more recent December 13, 2013 “Colgate Day” challenge.

The Audit and Budget Committees also met separately and each took important steps to ensure that we continue our discipline of strong fiscal management. The Audit Committee interviewed three finalists to conduct the university’s annual audit and selected KPMG as our new auditor. The Budget Committee did not take any formal action, but did review information provided by the administration about the status of the 2014-2015 budget process and a five-year budget forecast. Other board actions included the approval of a new soccer field so that the New Athletic Facility can be built on Van Doren Field, a plan to renovate the third floor of McGregory Hall and funds to install energy-efficient windows in James B. Colgate Hall.

The board unanimously approved a resolution granting promotion to associate professor and continuing tenure to seven members of the faculty and promotion to full professor for five colleagues. Both President Herbst and Provost Hicks noted that these cases were the first to be considered under the new process for promotion and tenure approved by the faculty last spring. The board also approved two resolutions that will allow Colgate to offer retirement incentives to eligible faculty. Provost Hicks will provide more detail on the programs at the next faculty meeting.

The next board meeting will be held in Hamilton March 27-29, 2014 and will include a number of important meetings and events. We look forward to attending the annual Balmuth Teaching Award dinner and will launch an “Academic Ambassadors Program,” whereby each trustee will be linked with an academic department or program area to gain a better understanding of our academic programs. We will also receive the first of regular reports about the progress of the Strategic Plan.

The board remains most grateful for your efforts in support of our students as we move forward with an exciting Strategic Plan with a timeline that will bring us to a signature moment in Colgate’s history, our bicentennial celebration in 2019.

Please contact me at with any comments, questions or suggestions.

Best regards,

Denis F. Cronin ’69 P’09, P’10
Chair, Colgate University Board of Trustees