Each June, trustees conduct a two-day retreat on key strategic issues. This year’s meeting included discussion of the challenging set of external trends buffeting higher education and the implications for the Alvernia brand as well as the findings of a market study for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Trustees also reviewed the action plan needed to strengthen the quality and finances of Alvernia’s adult education programs and provided feedback on major institutional goals for 2012-2015.
The Board also took action in response to two controversial topics prominent in the news. Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution affirming their strong support and deep appreciation for Alvernia’s foundresses, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. The resolution both commended and thanked the Sisters for their lives of selfless service to others. As was noted, the Sisters serve as an inspiration to the Alvernia community, representing all that is good in the Catholic Church, and are a vivid reminder of the extraordinary contribution of American religious women to both Church and society.
The Board also discussed the rulings of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to preventive services and approved a letter to be sent to the Department. The letter reaffirms Alvernia’s support for affordable preventive health services as well as expanded health insurance coverage for individuals of all backgrounds. Yet the University joins many other religiously affiliated institutions and agencies of all faiths in objecting both to a) the government’s narrow definition of such organizations; and b) its mandate violating the religious liberty of these institutions. In conjunction with the ACCU, our national association, we are carefully assessing the impact of the June Supreme Court decision and other pending developments on our programs and policies.
The Board also approved a new policy statement on trustee philanthropy. As customary, the Board received a variety of year-end reports, approved a preliminary budget for the coming year, and completed the evaluation of the president. Finally, joined by many emeritus trustees, the Board celebrated and thanked four distinguished trustees who collectively had contributed nearly 50 years of service: Rick Purcell, Sunil Widge, Kitty Wright, and former chair, Kathy Herbein ‘95.