Statement from President Mark D. Gearan
October 23, 2009
I write to provide a summary of the Board of Trustees meeting in Geneva this weekend. I was pleased that many colleagues were able to attend the Board Read Out session on Wednesday, but I am also aware that commitments prevent attendance and thought this note would provide background.
The Trustees were joined by five new members of the Board - N. Harrison Buck '81,P'12; David J. Lenihan '72,P'12; Will Margiloff '92; Adele F. Schotzhauer '83; and Craig M. Stevens '85. Linda Arrington '88, who had served as an Alumnae Association Trustee, begins another term on the Board. A student concert organized by Professor Bob Cowles allowed the Trustees to see our talented student performances. The Seneca Society wall with inscribed names honoring our first two classes of the Society's members of our most generous donors was dedicated in the new courtyard space behind the Scandling Center while the leadership donors of the annual fund's Emerson Society were also recognized and thanked for their ongoing support.
The full Board received important briefings on the PeopleSoft implementation with staff leads presenting an update and assessment of this critical effort. Provost Amott provided an overview of tenure and promotion procedures - especially useful to the newer members of the Board. The Presidents of the Alumni and Alumnae Councils jointly outlined their work plan and ambitious plans to engage more alums in the life of the Colleges. And the architect for the Performing Arts initiative, Laura Cabo of Graham Gund Associates, presented current renderings for this exciting initiative for critical new academic space.
Budget and Compensation
We reported to the Board on the close-out of last year's budget and our efforts to reduce the deficit from the projected $1.2 million level. While the auditors are near completion on last year's books, we expect to close the year with a $129,000 deficit - an impressive achievement and the result of hard work and careful oversight during the course of the year. I am grateful to the entire community for the diligence in cost containment.
I summarized to the Board our challenges for the current fiscal year given the higher than expected financial aid budget. In addition, I outlined the projections for the next five years given the size of recent classes and the financial aid budgets required. You will recall from the information I presented at the Budget Forum on September 29 that the budget scenarios which build upon this year's incoming class result in significant deficits for the next five years. Obviously, this is an unsustainable proposition and one of the many reasons I will convene a Budget Advisory Task Force comprised of faculty, staff, students and Trustee participation to study the issues and provide counsel to me. This ad hoc group will represent our community and, I believe, be an essential advisory body.
In light of these financial projections, the Board leadership engaged in productive conversations with faculty and staff on how we can reach financial equilibrium. The Board voted to grant a step increase for faculty at midyear with the same percentage (1.7%) allocated for the staff compensation pool. This increase acknowledges the Board's ongoing commitment to place faculty salaries at the midpoint of the Financial Comparison Group and to continue to advance the staff compensation. However, the Board also stipulated that we must work together to address the budget concerns. If we are unable to make substantive recommendations on expense reductions for the Spring meeting of the Board, the 1.7% increase cannot continue for next year. Effectively it will have been a one time stipend spread over six months. Without significant progress on these budget concerns, salaries would revert to current levels.
I am grateful to the Board for their good faith effort to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of our faculty and staff and their confidence in our ability to work collaboratively in the months ahead on this deficit reduction effort.
In that regard, I will soon convene the Budget Advisory Task Force with membership from the faculty (CoFac Chair Dunbar Moodie, CoAA Chair Christine deDenus, CoFac Chair-elect Wes Perkins and CoFac member Michael Tinkler), staff (Administrative Advisory Council Chair Kelly McLaughlin and Vice Chair John Reece, Union representative Kit Fallon), Senior Staff members (Teresa Amott, Peter Polinak, Sandy Bissell), students (Trustees Dan DeNose, Regina Triplett), Trustees (Maureen C. Zupan). I have asked Martha Bond, Director of Grants in Alumni House to serve as Staff Director for the Task Force.
Campus Planning and Capital Campaign
The Board reviewed the progress of Campaign for the Colleges which currently stands at $156 million in pledges and commitments. With the original goal of $160 million within sight and the imperative to continue building our endowment, increase sustained support of the Annual Fund, and complete the Performing Arts initiative, the Board voted to increase the goal of the capital campaign to $200 million. This significant step represents the confidence of the Board in our progress and doubles the amount of the Colleges' last capital campaign.
Final approval of the athletics project of the capital campaign was approved and renovations will begin next Spring. As you know, the capital campaign objectives were split between endowment, annual giving and capital projects. Many of the capital projects have already been completed thanks to the generosity of our alums and friends of the Colleges. These projects include Stern Hall, the Salisbury Center at Trinity Hall, Elliott Studio Arts Center, Goldstein Carriage House, Finger Lakes Institute, Rosensweig Learning Commons, Davis Gallery at Houghton House, Bozzuto Boathouse, Admissions Center, Centennial Center for Leadership, expansion of the Scandling Campus Center, Caird and de Cordova residence halls, Carr McGuire House and the Abbe Center for Jewish Life. The athletics project has secured $6.6 million toward the $8.9 million total with the balance from the bond proceeds allocated three years ago toward this project. With the completion of the athletic project, the remaining capital project is the academic space for performing arts; active fundraising is now underway.
I announced to the Board that I have accepted the resignation of Don Emmons, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions. Since 1993, Don has provided critical leadership in admissions, financial aid and enrollment initiatives, including overseeing the growth of the student body to 2,099 full time students and the recent implementation of PeopleSoft. I thank him for his dedication and service to the Colleges. Don will continue to lend his expertise in consulting with us in the area of institutional research, especially as it pertains to retention issues.
I also announced to the Board of Trustees that I have appointed Bob Murphy as the new Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions. As you know, Bob left HWS in June to become the Director of the Career and Professional Development Center at Carnegie Mellon University. As the Director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services, Bob was the architect behind Pathways, Compass and the Centennial Center for Leadership. His professional career includes 26 years in a number of divisions at PepsiCo. Retiring as the chief operating officer of PepsiCo International in Istanbul, Turkey. He has a B.S. in education and history from Norwich University and a M.Ed. in rehabilitation counseling and C.A.S. in student personnel administration from Springfield College. I am confident that Bob's collaborative approach to working with faculty and staff, his relationships with alumni and alumnae, his passion for our students' academic success and his sense of urgency and creativity will serve the Colleges well. He will begin his duties on campus at the end of October.
The Board reviewed the high level HWS 2015 Strategic Planning Process. This process will consist of distinct phases of planning, development and implementation - with specific focus areas and deliverables in each phase. In the coming weeks and months, we will be providing more detailed information on the overall process and inviting staff, faculty and students to join with our Trustees in completing this critical initiative. The development of the HWS 2015 Strategic Plan comes at an opportune moment. As we diligently work through our current fiscal challenges and navigate the broader global economic environment, we can use the HWS 2015 Strategic Planning process as a foundation for identifying goals and initiatives that will be central to the future success of the Colleges.
And finally, the Board of Trustees voted on a resolution following the op-ed article in the Finger Lakes Times by former professor Dan McGowan. The Board resolution stated: "Once again, Dan McGowan has used his prior association with Hobart and William Smith Colleges to attempt to give academic credence to his disrespectful and offensive views about the Holocaust. As members of the Board of Trustees, responsible for creating an inclusive and welcoming community for our students and for preserving its legacy on behalf of all of our alumni and alumnae, we condemn and denounce his attempt to give credibility to his views through the use of his Emeritus title and HWS email address. As do all citizens of the United States, Mr. McGowan enjoys constitutionally protected freedom of speech, a freedom we respect. The Board reaffirms its strong and unwavering support for the actions taken by President Mark Gearan to dissociate HWS from the views espoused by Mr. McGowan, as well as the President's continuing efforts to limit Mr. McGowan's inappropriate use of the HWS name and affiliation. We commend the Faculty for their engagement on this issue and for their strong statement dissociating themselves from Mr. McGowan's views, as recently articulated at a Faculty meeting."
With every best wish, I am
Mark D. Gearan