Dear Colgate Colleagues and Friends:
I write to provide a brief report about the Board of Trustees meetings and events held October 1-3, 2015. My predecessor, Denis Cronin ’69, P’09, P’10, established this form of communication to inform members of the Colgate community about the work of the board, and I am pleased to continue it.
We began this year’s fall board weekend on Thursday evening by having dinner with a wonderful group of students involved in a variety of campus initiatives and activities. This kind of event reflects our efforts to understand the issues and opportunities facing Colgate from the student perspective, and we plan to break bread with students at on-campus board meetings in the future.
Friday, October 2, brought a full day of sessions, including one with our external auditors from KPMG, who complimented Colgate’s financial management processes. Such a clean report is a tribute to the efforts of staff members and trustees involved with our financial reporting and accounting operations. We also received an update about capital projects including the Class of 1965 Arena and our new career services center, which, it was announced, will be called Benton Hall, named in honor of Daniel C. Benton ’80, H’10, P’10. In addition to attending formal groundbreaking ceremonies
for both projects, we attended a luncheon celebration featuring remarks from the chair of the trustee Capital Assets Committee, Stephen J. Errico ’85, P’16, P’18, Interim President Jill Harsin, and Nathan Harries ’16, a member of the men’s basketball team.
During our meeting on Friday, student leaders Kegan Thompson ’16 and David Kim ’16, president and vice president of the Student Government Association, gave an informative presentation about their efforts and student life at Colgate. We intend to invite SGA leadership to interact with the board during our first meeting of each school year.
The board also received three administrative presentations. Gary Ross ’77, vice president for admission and financial aid, summarized the recruitment efforts for the upcoming class. Brendt Simpson, associate vice president for institutional planning and special assistant to the president for legal affairs, discussed the recent U.S. News and World Reports rankings. Frank Frey, academic director for the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), provided an overview of the OUS program and its impact on students.
We also discussed the proposed Center for Art and Culture (CAC), a project requiring further study to ensure that it meets all program needs and that an appropriate budget for construction and operations is maintained. Village officials have raised issues about the project that also need to be addressed, and the administration is coordinating an on-campus review of the project and is expected to advance a recommendation to the board at the January meeting.
Finally on Friday, we reviewed the status of Colgate’s 2015-16 operating budget and the considerations in developing our 2016-17 budget. Overall, the university remains in a strong fiscal position, but improvements to the budget process were discussed.
A special moment took place as we began our formal meeting on Saturday morning. Leroy Cody ’71, chair of the Student Affairs Committee, invited Eric Lindley ’16 and Sarah Weber ’16 to offer our opening prayer. Eric and Sarah, who were Links to the two students who died in a plane crash on September 20, Ryan Adams ’19 and Cathryn “Carey” Depuy ’19, offered meaningful and moving words. I had attended the calling hours for both Ryan and Carey and join my fellow board members in sending our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes to their families and friends. I also want to offer special thanks to the many members of the staff and faculty as well as Ryan’s and Carey’s fellow students who responded to the tragedy in such thoughtful and caring ways, both individually and collectively.
In addition to reports from myself as chair, the president, treasurer, and each committee, the board took action to consolidate our committee structure. We approved the merger of the Audit Committee and the Legal Affairs and Insurance Committee into a new Audit, Legal Affairs, and Risk Management Committee, as well as the merger of the Nominating and Trustee Development Committee and the Planning and Governance Committee into a new Nominating, Governance, and Trustee Development Committee.
Each October the board sets aside time for members of the community to address the board. At this meeting we met with the leadership of Konosioni, a group of 26 peer-selected students honoring leadership, tradition and service to the Colgate community. They discussed the work of their organization and ways they could be more involved to support the university. We also met with three women from the Class of 2016 who expressed concerns about a variety of issues and responses to our campus sexual climate. The board and the administration expressed its appreciation to them for their feedback. We also noted that we are committed to creating a safe climate for students, and structuring the appropriate processes and forms of support that not only comply with legislation, but also reflect the special character and quality of our university. This is a topic that will remain on the board agenda until further notice. In addition to the Student Affairs Committee, the board also appointed a liaison to work with the Dean of College Office on this issue of priority.
This was the last board meeting for chair Denis Cronin ’69, P’09, P’10, and also for Rob Kindler ’76, P’04, P’08, P’12, P’17, who served as vice chair. Their combined record of service as trustees totaled an impressive 27 years. Colgate University is deeply indebted to them for the countless hours they volunteered to both lead the board and help the university to advance. We recognized their service that Friday evening and it was my special pleasure to announce that Denis will receive an honorary degree from Colgate at Commencement, 2016. A well deserved honor for a very special person.
The board remains most grateful for your efforts in support of our students. Please contact me at email@example.com
with any comments, questions or suggestions.
Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86, P’17
Chair, Colgate Board of Trustees