Finals week is here? Commencement is over? Winter break is coming up? I guess this explains my answer to the question “how are things going?”…My standard answer has become “Fast!”
I know I’m not alone in that sentiment—and I know it is felt even more acutely by the students preparing for finals, the faculty who need to grade those finals, and the staff who are working to help students successfully finish the semester. I have been able to attend a few of the sessions where seniors have shared their research over the past few weeks, giving me the opportunity to see first-hand the impact that an Edgewood College education has on our students. Know that I am grateful for your efforts to bring the semester and the calendar year to a successful close!
End of year
The end of the calendar year is exceptionally busy for our Advancement staff as well. Many individuals and organizations make their philanthropic decisions at the end of the calendar year, so following up with our regular donors and those who might be interested in investing in Edgewood College is an annual routine for our colleagues in that area.
In addition, as all of you know, we’re in the midst of a capital campaign in support of the Regina residence hall project approved by the Board of Trustees at its November 20 meeting. Our campaign committee (chaired by Trustee Neil Fauerbach), our Advancement staff, and I continue to follow-up with individuals and organizations who have shown an interest in financially supporting this project, especially those who would be eligible to qualify for the matching gift program that expires on December 31.
I must add that I have been touched by the generosity of our campus community. Approximately 50 faculty and staff have combined to pledge nearly $80,000 toward the campaign. What a tremendous example of servant leadership and generosity!
The most commonly asked question (beside “How are things going?”)…
Seems to be “What are we going to do with the white house on the corner?” Those of you who have been around campus for a number of years will recall that before Dan and Terri Carey lived there it was used as a temporary residence for faculty and staff just moving to the area (if memory serves, I believe Jed and Sheila Hopkins stayed there for a period of time when they arrived in Madison).
We will be using that house to provide housing for a residence life staff member for the next couple of years. There is an apartment in the lower level of Dominican that has been used by professional staff. Since we will be losing a few rooms during the Regina Hall renovation, moving that staff position off campus allows us to fill the apartment with a few students—partially offsetting some of the room and board revenue we might stand to lose during construction/renovation. After we’re through the transition to the new Regina, we will take a broader look at how we might utilize that house moving forward.
Speaking of revenue
The Planning and Budget Committee, which consists of faculty, staff and students in addition to the Vice Presidents, on Friday reviewed an update on the process of reconciling the 2015-16 operating budget. Through mid-January, the Finance area will continue compiling the ideas that have come forward to generate additional revenue, reduce expenses, or fund initiatives or activities that require additional resources.
The Planning and Budget Committee will meet before spring classes start to begin the reconciliation process in earnest, and meetings are scheduled about every 10 days. The Deans’ Council and the President’s Council will also be engaged in the process of advising me about the best way to arrive at the balanced budget that the president must propose to the Finance & Audit Committee of the Board (February) and the full Board of Trustees (March). As soon as we finish that work, we will turn our attention to planning and budget assumptions for future years—part of my focus on extending the timeline for our budgeting and planning processes.
Recognition for the College
I’m pleased to share that Edgewood College was named—for the 6th consecutive year—to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll! As the organization’s website states, “The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships. The Honor Roll’s Presidential Award is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning, and civic engagement.” All of you have heard me describe the importance of articulating and delivering on our impact to the broader community—this is a great testament to the fact that we are delivering, and gives us a great opportunity to tell that story.
The nomination featured three areas for contribution to community service: the COR2 curriculum, the Office of Science Outreach, and Student Organizations. Thanks to all of those involved in this essential part of living our Mission, and in particular to Tricia Dusick, Civic Engagement Coordinator, for her outstanding leadership in supporting these initiatives and preparing this nomination!
Over the past few months, Board Chair Gary Schaefer and I worked to establish goals for my first year (or so—some of them extend past one year). A brief description of these goals is available (here). These goals are not meant to be a compilation of institutional goals—there are many, many critical issues and important projects not represented here. This set represents those areas for which I have unique and primary responsibility as president. I hope this information is helpful to you in understanding how I’m spending my time and those activities that I am being asked to undertake and complete.
One of those topics pertains to professional development in this role. I chose not to participate in some of the many summer seminars for first-time presidents, knowing that I would have other opportunities that align with other professional gatherings I’d likely attend. In particular, I’ll be participating in the following activities early in the calendar year:
January 2-7: Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Presidents’ Institute. This is the largest gathering of private college presidents, which begins with a couple of days specifically for new presidents. Dr. Carey and I will be hosting a roundtable about presidential transitions, an attempt to share what we’ve learned and to get some national exposure for Edgewood College.
January 29-February 2: Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) Annual Meeting: This is a meeting specifically for Catholic college leaders; like, CIC, it also has some offerings particularly designed for new presidents.
February 2-4: National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) Annual Meeting. NAICU is the primary advocacy group for independent colleges and universities. The second day of this conference consists primarily of preparing for meetings with legislators and staff (in the morning), followed by meetings on Capitol Hill in the afternoon.
I expect that these opportunities will help improve my performance as your president and enhance our visibility nationally. As I go through this first year, I’ll determine which of these activities are the most beneficial for me as a college president and, more importantly, which are most essential for me to participate in on behalf of Edgewood College.
As has been our custom for many years, we will start our spring semester by spending time together as a campus community during January Seminar on Wednesday, January 15 and Thursday, January 16. Much, if not all (the schedule is still being developed), of the content for Wednesday morning will be equally relevant for faculty and staff—please plan to participate as your schedule permits. That afternoon and the following day will consist of activities open to all but primarily designed with faculty in mind. Please keep your eyes open for more detailed communication from the Academic Dean’s Office as those dates approach.
And don’t forget the Faculty & Staff Holiday party on Thursday, December 18 from 4-6 p.m. in Washburn!
Of course, mixed into all of that is a holiday break. I look forward to spending time with family and close friends, recharging my batteries, and enjoying the spirit of the season. Whatever your break looks like—and I know we still have some time between now and then--I offer to each of you my warmest wishes for a relaxing and joyous holiday season!