President's Newsletter March 2014

Important Updates

March 12-13 Board of Trustees Meeting  

Trustees’ major action items included approval of the Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership, recently ratified by the faculty, and the university audit which received a strong endorsement from an external auditing firm. The Board also approved hiring of a new investment firm, Fund Evaluation Group, and extended their On-Line Learning Task Force for a second year to provide adequate time for a campus plan to be developed prior to Board review and approval. Trustees also discussed important reports on global learning, program cost analysis, information technology, and enrollment and budget trends for the current and upcoming years. The Board also reviewed the university dashboard that monitors key performance metrics, while committees did the same with their area dashboards. 

At their plenary session, a panel of trustees examined dramatic changes in their professional environments and drew parallels with changes facing higher education, and a panel of deans probed national trends in accelerated learning and the integration of liberal and professional education. 

With great enthusiasm, trustees re-elected Joanne Judge (chair) and Kevin St. Cyr (vice chair) for 2014-2015, with Kevin designated as chair-elect for 2015-2016. Trustees also awarded trustee emeritus status to Bill Combs and Rick Purcell, both of whom served at two different times on the Board; elected local business entrepreneur Pat Shields as a new trustee; and welcomed back Sr. Madonna who, along with Sr. David Ann Niski, will be among the Sisters’ new Board representatives. 

As part of her Chair’s Report, Joanne Judge reported on the annual dinner at Cedar Hill for board and faculty leaders and the excellent collaborative spirit. She and the president both praised the faculty officers’ fine leadership during the last two years. The highlight of trustees’ two-day gathering was a lunch attended by faculty officers and other colleagues to thank trustees for their support of Faculty Excellence; several of those awarded Faculty Excellence Grants made impressive presentations of their research results.


For the current academic year, the budget news is positive overall. Despite fall semester revenue shortfalls in several areas, the outlook for spring is encouraging. We are currently ahead of the second semester undergraduate enrollment goal, thanks to slightly improved fall to spring freshman retention. While enrollment in the School of Graduate and Adult Education continues to run behind goal, there has been improvement over earlier second semester projections and compared to last year’s performance. Along with this progress, effective cost control through spending reductions, careful review of all hiring decisions and selective targeting of any new expenditures will enable us to meet 2013-2014 budget goals. 

For next year’s budget, the volatility and uncertainty of enrollment trends at both the graduate and undergraduate levels require continued vigilance in managing expenses. There are also early indications that the university’s health insurance renewal will be affected unfavorably by costs and taxes imposed on carriers by the Affordable Care Act. Specific information related to employee health care costs will be shared once available, likely in late April. 

Fall Enrollment

As you will recall from January’s Divisional Meetings, our pool of undergraduate students for 2014-2015 is smaller than planned. Our enrollment staff has made good progress with applications, but the number of confirmed students is running well behind last year (though even with two years ago.) Trends are definitely less predictable than in the past, so we will need to monitor developments during spring and early summer.  

Projections for fall graduate and adult enrollment are shaped by both current enrollment and new programmatic initiatives that will help offset declines in other areas. With leadership by the school’s staff and key faculty, several new initiatives hold promise: 

• The MA in Community Counseling began its first spring semester cohort; the MS in Occupational Therapy program launched a new entry-level cohort in January. Both programs are in demand.

• Now formally approved, the MA in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) and its accompanying certificate option will launch in fall 2014. With a blend of liberal arts and professional emphases, it has potential to meet a growing demand among employees (and employers) for advanced education in leadership development.

• A post-baccalaureate Special Education Certification for grades 7- 12, offered primarily online, received PDE approval and is now available to students who previously earned a secondary education teaching certificate. A cohort of 12 students is pursuing this certification. 

> Continue to the FACULTY EXCELLENCE section

president's newsletter march 2014

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