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Work In Progress - July 6, 2015

  • Monday, Jul 6, 2015

I hope all of you are enjoying the start of the summer, including the long Independence Day weekend! The pace on campus has been a little slower over the past few weeks, but between students coming to register, summer school, construction at the College and the High School, and groups on campus it is still a pretty active place. And August is not far away…

Vice President for Student Development

I am thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Anthony Chambers as the next Vice President for Student Development. Tony currently serves as Associate Professor of Higher Education and the Director of the Center for the Study of Students in Postsecondary Education at the University of Toronto. He brings a unique background which includes both experience as a faculty member and as a practitioner in student affairs. Dr. Chambers will begin his term as VPSD on January 1, 2016, though he will be on campus occasionally during the fall semester in preparation for that official start date. Please join me in extending to Tony a warm welcome when you meet him!

In the interim, I have asked Assistant Vice President for Student Development Ryan Bouchard to lead the Student Development staff. Please join me in thanking Ryan for accepting this important responsibility at this critical time, and in supporting him and the entire student development staff in carrying out their work to build a challenging, inclusive, supportive learning environment.

I am grateful for the work of the search committee, chaired by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dean Pribbenow, who identified and prioritized a strong slate of candidates for this important role. After a few unexpected twists and turns—that changed the length of time, not the result of the process—I am confident that we’ve identified an outstanding next leader for our student development area.

Residence Hall progress

We ceremonially began the New Residence hall project with a groundbreaking on May 28. Thanks to those of you who were able to attend, as well as those of you whose financial contributions helped make this project possible! We are within $600,000 of our $3.4 million target, and we are confident in our ability to reach that target—including a grant possibility of about $450,000--in the next few months. Our finance area successfully executed the debt authorized at the May Board meeting, securing very favorable interest rates for both the new debt and the outstanding amount we refinanced. For those of you who can’t see the progress from outside your window, you can find regular updates from Findorff (the general contractor for this project) online.

More recognition for environmental stewardship

Last week, we were informed that Edgewood College Dining Services was re-certified as a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant. Continuing to be environmentally responsible remains an important condition of our dining services partnership with Chartwell’s, and this recognition validates our shared efforts in that important area.

This news follows recognition by the Princeton Review which named Edgewood College in April as one of 353 Green Colleges in the nation. From the Campus Sustainability Team to those involved in the Sustainability Leadership Program, from LEED certification on recent building projects to the establishment of a revolving fund for financial sustainability, we have taken many steps to be effective stewards of our natural resources. It is always pleasant to receive recognition for living out our commitments!

Benefits Review Task Force

Last spring, President’s Council appointed a group of faculty and staff to take a comprehensive look at the College’s benefit package in light of relevant data. Their work has continued through the summer, primarily on two fronts: preparing a summary of the survey you were invited to complete during spring semester, and generating a summary comparing College benefits with other relevant groups (depending on data availability, including the local market, WAICU colleges, and peer groups).  An update on their progress, and any potential next steps that may emerge, will be shared early in the academic year. Please join me in thanking members of the task force for their diligent work:

  • Pamela LaValliere, Director of Human Resources (Chair)
  • Pamela Crary, Associate Professor, Henry Predolin School of Nursing
  • Mark Barnard, Associate Professor, School of Business
  • Ian Davies, Professor, Foreign Language Department
  • Jessica Heckman, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences Department
  • Patrick Estes, Research Analyst, Institutional Research Office
  • Suann Saltzberry, Assistant Director of Athletics
  • Maria Sierra, Utilization & Operations Manager, Facilities Operations
  • Kathy Buechel, Human Resource Specialist

Do you know anyone who…?

One of the action steps that emerged from last year’s work on the topic of inclusion was that I would convene an advisory board—of individuals from the College community, the Board of Trustees, and the greater Madison area. Please feel free to forward to me names of individuals you think might be helpful to me in improving our ability to create the type of inclusive learning community we are called to be. I won’t, of course, be able to accommodate every nomination, but I do want to consider individuals from a variety of perspectives. Dean Pribbenow has convened a steering committee responsible for coordinating institutional efforts in the area of inclusion, and you can also expect an update on the status of other steps at our upcoming August Seminar.

Enrollment

At this time of year, we are closely monitoring progress toward enrollment goals. It appears that, as the case has been during the past few years, we will be very close to our budget targets. Freshman enrollment is slightly ahead of pace to reach our goal of 290, but transfer enrollment is not currently on track to reach our budget figure. Since that is a late-decision market, there will be little lead time between when we know for certain and the start of the semester. The same is true of our graduate enrollment, though the trends for those programs—broadly speaking—seem ahead of where we need to be. As higher education continues to change, we need to continue to seek ways to respond to the needs of our world—always in a manner consistent with our Mission, Identity, and Values, and always looking forward (in time) and outward (to our community) in addition to inward at those key foundations.

“Are there fewer meetings in the summer?”

No. (Well, maybe. I haven’t counted. But it doesn’t seem like the number has decreased!)

The President’s Council and Deans’ Council met together in late June to review the recently completed school year and to begin defining key topics for 2015-16.

The Executive Committee of the Board met later that same week to begin preparations for the 2015-16 board year. Topics for discussion included oversight of risk management, committee work for the upcoming year, and a preliminary review of the annual board survey Trustees completed in May.

In addition, I’ll be conducting a planning retreat July 15-17 with my Vice Presidents. I expect we will focus on a few key topics:

  • Building effective personal and professional relationships, now that will have added two new faces at the vice-presidential level in the last six months.
  • Revisiting execution of the current strategic plan, looking back (what we learned and what we accomplished) and looking forward (identification of those topics needing special attention during the upcoming year).
  • Outlining the process we will take during the current year to build our next strategic plan.
  • Clarifying the roles of the President’s Council and Deans’ Council—as individuals and as groups—in key decision processes.

You’ll probably hear from me once more before seminar week (the week of August 17), when we’ll reconvene as a campus community to get the academic year started. Until then, best wishes for an enjoyable remainder to the summer!