Spring Board of Trustees Meeting (March 14-15)
The Trustees’ major agenda item was final approval of the new 18,500 square-foot Campus Commons. It will be attached to the innovative apartment suites building in Founders Village. With ground breaking soon, the Commons project should be completed by late fall and is a key focus of the Value & Vision campaign, attracting strong initial donor interest. It will be home to a large new fitness center, a dance and aerobics studio and a campus living room that will accommodate more than 100 students for leisure activities, study and programs. The new facility will also provide space for clubs, organizations and student life offices.
Based on recommendations from the faculty’s Salary and Benefits Committee, the administration and the Board’s Finance Committee, trustees also approved employee compensation for 2012-2013, along with a new audit firm (Parente Beard); a university social media policy (click here to review), and awarded trustee emeritus status to Ray Dee, who served the University well during a challenging period in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Salary and Benefits: I am pleased to announce that the Board approved a 3.04% salary pool for 2012-2013, with 2% or $1,000 (whichever is larger) for the standard raise and the significant additional funds targeted to complete the 2010 Faculty and Staff Compensation Plans. The structure of the across-the-board increase is designed to provide a higher percentage increase to all those employees making less than $50,000 per year. The Board endorsed the change in our health insurance provider to Highmark Blue Shield that was effective March 1. This changed allowed for better coverage without any cost increase for employees or the University.
In making these decisions, trustees considered the ongoing economic challenges currently facing all organizations, the need to limit cost increases to our students, and the University’s sound overall financial position. Trustees also considered a key set of circumstances. While modest improvement in the financial performance of the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies is forecast for 2012-2013, the Board recognizes that the current significant revenue shortfall will not improve rapidly without strong leadership and widespread cooperation. Trustees recognize that significant increases in revenue will require program expansion, more competitive delivery systems and increased marketing support to succeed in an environment of unprecedented competition.
Trustees reaffirmed their support for implementation of the compensation plans -- noting that dramatic progress has been made, especially with the faculty, during a period of external economic turmoil. From their own experience, they are well aware of the national crisis affecting all organizations through the spiraling cost of health insurance premiums. They are pleased that the recent external benefits study evaluated almost all our benefits as “highly competitive” and that improved health care coverage can be provided for 2012-2013 at no increased cost to employees. Trustees also reaffirmed the importance of strong systems of professional development, evaluation and accountability for all faculty and staff.
Other Board Items: Besides the above actions, the Board also reviewed the quarterly report on Accreditation and Academic Compliance and the status reports on both the Teaching and Learning and Diversity/Cross Cultural Plans. They were pleased with the progress on compliance issues and study- abroad opportunities and are enthusiastic about the significant investments to be made this summer in both Bernardine Hall and the Franco Library. Trustees also reviewed the action plan underway to strengthen the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, the federally mandated Net Price Calculator required for all university websites and potential revisions to their policy statement on philanthropy.
Guests at lunch were, once again, some of the 19 new faculty hired for 2011-2012 and the faculty who are newly tenured and/or promoted.