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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

April 2014

Dear Colgate Colleagues and Friends,

Colgate’s Board of Trustees met on campus March 27-29, 2014 and it is a pleasure to provide this report to you.

On Thursday evening, March 27, we joined many faculty and friends at the Colgate Inn where Douglas Johnson, associate professor of psychology, received the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching for 2014. This award, funded by Mark S. Siegel ’73 to honor Jerome “Jerry” Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick professor of philosophy and religion emeritus, is the highest award given to members of our faculty. The dinner provided a wonderful setting for trustees and faculty to connect, and we were inspired by Doug’s remarks. He clearly is committed to excellence in teaching, scholarship and engaging students in the discovery of knowledge.

We devoted four hours on Friday to the subject of implementing Colgate University’s Strategic Plan, 2014–2019: Living the Liberal Arts in our Third Century. As I reported in my communication that followed our January meeting, the board approved the plan. At this session President Jeffrey Herbst; Douglas Hicks, provost and dean of the faculty; Brian Hutzley, vice president for finance and administration; Suzy Nelson, vice president and dean of the college; and Gary Ross, vice president and dean of admission, provided the board with the goals of the plan and the appropriate financial model for revenue, debt, and cost controls to generate the financial resources it requires. Our discussion was part of an ongoing process that will continue as the implementation steps are further considered.

We are delighted that elements of the plan related to internationalization are already underway. Over the next several years we will focus our attention on upgrading the residence halls and implementing a Residential Learning Community model. We will also use our success in raising funds for financial aid as a foundation for generating the funds required to meet our need-blind admission policy goal.

Our lunch on Friday was with faculty and students involved in pilot Residential Learning Communities (RLC). We enjoyed meeting 25 students involved in the RLC Annex program at 49 Broad Street, the Open Society, and the inaugural Sophomore Residential Seminar program. We learned about this promising initiative from remarks by Suzy Nelson; David Dudrick, professor of philosophy and director of the SRS program; and Nicole Halper ’15, co-president of the Open Society. It was very evident that the program is off to a strong start. The board also was briefed about the relationship of the RLCs to the “Living the Liberal Arts” theme of the Strategic Plan and the new student residences to be constructed as part of the Campus Master Plan.

On Friday afternoon the board also met with Michael Sciola, associate vice president for institutional advancement and director of career services; Vera Chapman, associate director for career development; and Teresa Olsen, director of operations and strategic planning. We received an update about their initiatives and strategic goals and learned about plans that are emerging for a new Center for Career Services building, which is needed to accommodate the high levels of student use at every grade level. The university is fortunate that a generous trustee has made a lead gift commitment to launch a fundraising effort that may be completed as soon as this summer.

A highlight of the weekend was the launch of an Academic Ambassadors program that connects each trustee with an academic department or program. The program will enable trustees to develop an understanding of the nature and substance of the work of the faculty, and the issues they face, and for the faculty to learn about the board and provide feedback and observations. The conversations were lively, informative, and provided a wonderful foundation for continued dialogue. They were held in settings across the campus and continued into the evening at a Faculty Tunk in Merrill House. A number of trustees, faculty, and staff took periodic breaks during the Tunk to watch the men’s ice hockey NCAA playoff game against Ferris State. Although we lost in a close contest, we were proud of the achievements of the team and Don Vaughan’s recognition as ECAC Coach of the Year for 2013–2014.

During the board’s formal business session on Saturday morning, we reviewed and approved the budget for fiscal year 2014­­­–2015. The board also approved recommendations for faculty appointments as well as salary recommendations for 2014­–2015. We reviewed and approved funds in support of three building projects that are core elements of the Strategic Plan: the remaining work for the Hurwitz Admission Center, the next phase of architectural design work for the Center for Art and Culture by David Adjaye and Associates, and the renovation of McGregory Hall that will include the construction of our new Center for International Programs. We also heard reports from trustees about the conversations they had with faculty during the Academic Ambassadors program.

The board remains most grateful for your efforts in support of our students. Please contact me at dfcronin@colgate.edu with any comments, questions or suggestions.

Best regards,
Denis F. Cronin '69, P'09, P'10