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Message from the Chair

Following each meeting of the board of trustees, the chair updates the Colgate community about the university’s status and progress.
Denis F. Cronin '69

June 2014

Dear Colgate Colleagues and Friends,

Colgate’s Board of Trustees met on campus June 6-7, 2014, the last of our four meetings for the 2013-14 academic year. It is a pleasure to provide this post-board meeting report to you.

We devoted several hours on Friday to the subject of financial aid, a vital resource for generations of talented students and a cornerstone objective of Colgate University’s Strategic Plan, 2014-19: Living the Liberal Arts in our Third Century. The board received an overview of Colgate’s financial aid program from President Herbst, Brian Hutzley, vice president for finance and administration, and Marcelle Tyburski, director of financial aid. The board also received a presentation from Dr. Sandra Baum, research professor of education policy at George Washington University and senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Dr. Baum is a leading expert on financial aid and is well known for her research and understanding of the forms of financial aid programs administered by colleges and universities. She provided a very helpful assessment of the issues and opportunities associated with Colgate’s goal to fund and adopt a need-blind admission policy. In board action on Saturday, we created an Admission and Financial Aid Committee of the board that will be chaired by Lee M. Woodruff ’83, H’07, P’13 to provide oversight of Colgate’s efforts to enroll a vibrant, diverse, and academically talented community of students regardless of financial need.

On Friday the board also received an update about the various building projects underway or envisioned, including construction of the new soccer field, the new athletic facility, the Center for Art and Culture, a new career center, and improvements in our residence halls. Colgate has a wonderful campus and the board is deeply committed to renovating existing facilities, or constructing new ones, that are properly designed, meet current and future program needs, and are appropriately funded.

The board also received an overview of the Endowment Management and Finance Committee’s investment strategy by Chairperson Barry J. Small ’76 and Joseph S. “JS” Hope ’97, who was recently promoted to the position of chief investment officer. Colgate’s endowment performance has been excellent. For the period September 1998 through March 2014, the investment return averaged 8.1% as compared to a 6.4% return for the S&P 500. Over the past decade the endowment has contributed over $285 million to support the university’s faculty, students, and programs. The board also received the final report on the Colgate Identity Project from Barbara Brooks, interim vice president for communications. Many of the data-driven recommendations are guiding the university’s marketing communications plans for prospective students and families, as well as efforts with our other key constituents.

Trustees and senior administrators attended the dedication of the new Hurwitz Admission Center in James B. Colgate Hall. The renovation project has created a wonderful new space for visitors to campus and is equipped with technology and visual aids that confirm that Colgate is indeed “in the middle of everywhere,” as the multimedia presentation states. Two highlights of the program were the remarks by Kori V. Strother ’15 and Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86, P’17, trustee and lead donor to the project.

During our formal business session on Saturday the board acted on several recommendations, including:
  • Recommendations of the President regarding faculty appointments
  • Approved revisions to the Bylaws, Conflict of Interest Policies and Disclosure Procedures, Whistleblower Policy, and board committee descriptions to comply with the New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013
  • Approved expenditures to purchase 3.6 acres of property in the Adirondacks for use by Colgate’s Outdoor Education Program
  • Approved the sale of a 0.34 parcel of land in Hamilton, NY, to Fairmount Properties, a real estate development firm from Ohio, which is interested in using the parcel for a proposed housing project.
In addition, the board approved resolutions of appreciation for four trustees whose terms of service ended at the June meeting. The resolutions followed a wonderful dinner on Friday evening that gave us an opportunity to recognize the service of Scott A. Meiklejohn ’77, Mark D. Nozette ’71, Barry J. Small ’76, and Edward M. Werner ’71. All four, each in his own special way, served Colgate in outstanding fashion, and I know we will continue to benefit from their engagement with Colgate in the years ahead.

The board elected four new trustees to three-year terms: Eric A. Cole ’93, New York, NY, a partner at Appaloosa Management LP; Margaret A. Flanagan ’80, Cambridge, MA, who is retired from the law firm of Testa, Hurwitz and Thibeault; Andrew S. Greenfield ’74, P’12, Norwalk, CT, entrepreneur and founder of Colgate’s Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute; and Duncan L. Neiderauer ’81, H’13, Mahwah, NJ, chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange.

Looking ahead to the 2014-15 academic year, the board will meet in Hamilton on September 19-20, April 10-11, and June 5-6. In addition we will meet in Miami, Florida, January 24-25 as part of our annual effort to meet alumni, parents, and friends in different parts of the country and develop connections with guidance counselors who are important resources for attracting talented students.

The 2013-14 year was a vibrant one for Colgate, and the many accomplishments are a tribute to the efforts of the talented faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing a high-quality educational experience for our students. We witnessed evidence of your success at Commencement 2014 and throughout Reunion Weekend, when school spirit and alumni engagement were so palpable. The board joins me in thanking each and every one of you.

Please contact me at dfcronin@colgate.edu if you have any questions or suggestions. Best wishes for a wonderful summer. Best regards.