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Summary of the September Board of Managers Meeting

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members, 

I hope you are well and settled into the rhythm of the fall semester. On behalf of the Board of Managers Chair Koof Kalkstein ’78, I write today with a brief summary of the September Board meeting.  

This meeting was the first for five new managers: Sean Decatur ’90, Lia Haskin Fernald ’94, Paul E. Kuenstner ’80, Gaurav Seth ’98, and Ayanna Johnson ’09, in her capacity as president of the Alumni Council. We’re fortunate that committed members of our community volunteer their time in this way, and we look forward to their many contributions as Managers in the years ahead.

On Friday morning, the Board received an update on the Supreme Court’s decision to significantly limit the extent to which a prospective student’s race factors into college and university admissions. Art Coleman, managing partner and co-founder of EducationCounsel, joined us via Zoom. The College partnered with Art late last year in anticipation of the ruling, and he has provided expert counsel in helping us navigate the decision and its implications. Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock ’90 and General Counsel Sharmaine LaMar discussed with the Board the College’s efforts to date to adhere to the law while also living into our commitment to cultivating a diverse and equitable community.

Vice President for Human Resources Beth Glassman then shared some employment trends resulting from the pandemic and an update on the College’s efforts to attract staff talent in today’s job market. Beth highlighted several initiatives designed to strengthen staff recruitment and retention, such as the College’s Employee Referral Award Program, evaluating minimum job requirements to make them more inclusive, and expanding the comparison market used to help benchmark staff compensation. She also reviewed several of the College’s recent benefit enhancements, such as reducing the waiting period for the Staff Parental Leave Program from one year to 60 days and increasing the leave from four to eight weeks, increasing the Tuition Grant Program, increasing the child care subsidy program, and the new Cultural and Religious Observance Policy.

As we shared with you in May, the College has been studying possible improvements to its aging Athletics facilities to support the personal and physical development and well-being of students, faculty, and staff members. We are focused primarily on renovations to Cunningham Fields and the Lamb-Miller Fieldhouse. Vice President for Advancement Liz Wood summarized a recent feasibility study that looked at initial fundraising potential to support the initiative, sharing that potential donors were enthusiastic about the concept. The Board expects to hear more about this effort throughout the academic year.

During lunch, the Board had the wonderful opportunity to hear from three students who gave brief presentations on their summer research projects. It was among the highlights of the meeting, and the Board hopes to engage more with students, faculty, and staff members throughout the academic year. My thanks and appreciation to Jacinta Fernandes-Brough ’24, Andrew Henin ’25, and Zamir Ticknor ’25 for taking the time to share a bit about their summer experiences.

In the afternoon, I led a discussion around our ongoing strategic planning initiative. As I shared with you at the start of the semester, earlier this summer, the working groups submitted their reports and recommendations to me. I am in the midst of synthesizing that information into a draft plan. I discussed with the Board the themes and goals emerging from that work. Vice President for Finance and Administration Rob Goldberg also presented some preliminary work that he and the Financial Resources Study Group, which he co-chairs with Centennial Chair and Professor of Economics Ellen Magenheim, have done to begin thinking about the resources needed to support the initiatives that ultimately end up in the plan. I will be in touch with the campus community soon about opportunities to discuss the current state of the plan, which I expect to bring to the Board for approval in December. 

During the Board’s general session on Saturday, I provided the Board with an overview of the start of the academic year, highlighting our successful move-in and orientation efforts, providing a snapshot of our new first-year and transfer students as well as our new faculty members, and other ongoing initiatives, many of which I shared with you earlier this month. I was also delighted to inform the Board about some of the impressive accomplishments of many of our students and faculty members, demonstrating the extraordinary depth and breadth of our community. I’d like to thank our student and faculty board observers for attending Saturday’s session: Nana Asante ’26, Danika Grieser ’26, Associate Professor of Engineering Matt Zucker, and Susan W. Lippincott Professor of Modern and Classical Languages Sibelan Forrester. 

As always, the Board expressed their deep appreciation for all that the students, faculty, and staff members do to support each other and carry forward the mission of the College.


Val Smith