September 14th Update

  • Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

Welcome to the…well, this is kind of embarrassing. I’ve thought about frequency, tone, and content… but not a name for this communication. Please send your nominations to Fabulous prizes certainly await anyone whose suggestion is chosen!

Monday Morning in Advancement
I’m happy to share two promising developments, both of which came across my desk Monday morning, August 25. First, we received word from the Balg trust of a $21,000 gift to support the College's civic engagement activities. That same day, Dr. Carey stopped by with the exciting news that he had over the weekend received a $250,000 pledge toward the residence hall project. The campaign for this project continues to move forward; in fact, staff from Advancement and Alumni Relations and I were in Elmhurst, IL on Thursday for a Meet the President/Res Hall Campaign event.

In unrelated news, I have contracted with QTI to assist with the Vice President for Institutional Advancement search. I’m putting the finishing touches on the search committee that will work with me and with QTI during that process, and I will keep you posted as that moves forward.

Partly Cloudy or Partly Sunny?
The enrollment picture this year is mixed. Our freshman class will be about five students short of our target, and with improved diversity and the strongest academic credentials in school history. In addition, freshman-to-sophomore retention will be around the 80% level that has become our norm-which puts us near the top of our peer group. We can take great pride in this accomplishment!

Graduate and accelerated enrollments are on track to meet budget targets; unfortunately, our transfer class will be about fifteen students short of what we expect. You can expect more specific detail in early October, after Institutional Research has the opportunity to do our annual snapshot.

The net result of all of this is that we expect to reach—and surpass slightly--our net revenue goals for 2014-15.

Salary pool implementation and compensation study follow-up
Since we anticipate reaching net revenue projections, I have authorized implementing the salary increase built into the operating budget for 2014-15. In consultation with the President’s Council, we intentionally invested in areas identified in the compensation study as needing particular attention. This does not reflect that our work in this area is complete, but I am pleased that we have been able to make some progress toward areas of concern while simultaneously maintaining increases for faculty and staff as a whole. Pay increases will apply to September payrolls.

Transformation Fund projects
The College has had positive operating margins over the past twenty years. In August 2008, the Board of Trustees approved the Transformation Fund as a pool of resources to allow the College to support special projects that advance the College’s strategic plan, to fund new program development and startup expenses, and to provide resources for unique opportunities that can have a substantial impact on our ability to deliver exceptional educational experiences in the future.

The President’s Council recently approved moving forward on the following projects:

  • The second year of a three-year plan to build greater capacity in the Advancement Office.
  • Start-up expenses for implementation of the School of Business undergraduate curriculum.
  • Registration software to make the enrollment process for Professional Development students simpler (for students and staff).
  • A comprehensive project (involving the Registrar’s Office, Academic Dean’s Office, and Information Technology Services Office) to transform the processes of advising, registration, academic planning, and decision-making.

What’s coming up?

  • The first Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 18…which means that the other committees are in the process of holding their meetings in the last week or so. At each of its four annual meetings, the Board chooses one focus topic to discuss in detail—at the September meeting, the focus topic will be the residence hall project.
  • On August 27, the President’s Council heard a presentation from M3 Insurance regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Over the next few weeks, the President’s Council and the Planning & Budget Committee will discuss some of the implications of this legislation on our financial projections and benefit offerings. More detail will be shared as these discussions advance.
  • Speaking of the budget process, the Planning & Budget Committee has met twice. Thus far, the Committee has reviewed the operating budget timeline, discussed enrollment projections, reviewed suggested uses of the $25,000 pool set aside for the start of the school year, and identified topics committee members would like to discuss during the fall. You’ll hear more from and about the work of this group as the semester advances.

College Assembly
The Presidential Transition Team identified the use of College Assembly as an important topic for me to address. In a recent meeting I held with the conveners of Faculty and Staff Associations (respectively), Susan Rustick and Samantha Tiller offered to gather thoughts from faculty and staff about how to most effectively utilize these opportunities for community, communication, and engagement. Please keep your eyes open for this request and send them your candid thoughts.

Susan, Samantha and I will at our next meeting discuss your suggestions, in advance of the November 17 College Assembly meeting. We will likely have only one Assembly this fall, but we believe that taking some time to plan how to use that opportunity is time better spent than holding an Assembly early in the semester simply because that’s been our practice.

Help Me Help You
This is Version 1.0 of whatever it will be called. Please reply to this email to give me your feedback—what you liked, what you didn’t and how I can keep you appropriately informed about what’s going on. If you’d rather share anonymously, please drop a note in the mailbox for the President’s Office. In the meantime, you can always have some idea what I’m up to by following me on Twitter (@sflanaganec).