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Work in Progress - August 9

  • Sunday, Aug 9, 2015

Welcome to the final version of Work in Progress for the summer of 2015!

 

Whether you’ve been away from campus all summer or just had the chance to take some vacation time at some point, I hope you have been able to refresh, relax, and recharge as we turn our attention to welcoming back students for the 2015-16 academic year. First to arrive will be resident assistants (August 15), followed in short order by student-athletes and orientation team leaders before freshman move-in day (Saturday, August 22).

Transitions and Changes

The past twelve months have seen a fair amount of transition at the senior level—beginning, I suppose, with my start in this role just over a year ago!  That process continued through a successful transition in Institutional Advancement, where Gary Klein began as our vice president in March. Another transition, as you are aware, is in process; Ryan Bouchard is leading our student development area through the end of 2015 before Tony Chambers assumes the role of Vice President for Student Development in January 2016.

I also wanted to share a few other organizational steps I’ve taken this summer:

  • The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, led by Glenna Scholle-Malone, will report to Student Development. This had been the organizational “home” for the CDI until recent years, and I believe it is the appropriate reporting structure based on the nature of the work in which that area engages. Tony Garcia, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, will continue to report to Maggie Hopkins, O.P., as his work to coordinate our efforts to build a more inclusive campus climate remain an appropriate fit with her role in advancing the College’s Mission.
  • I have asked Sr. Maggie to join the President’s Council. Interestingly, she is the only vice president who had not previously been a member of that group. Sr. Maggie has been a valued advisor to me—and, before me, to Jim Ebben and Dan Carey—and I noticed in the last year how her presence and contributions enrich the quality of discussions in meetings she attends.
  • In the past few weeks, I have constituted a “Cabinet”—an advisory group including the vice presidents and deans of the different schools. In recent years, the President’s Council and Deans’ Council met jointly on occasion. The purpose of those meetings, however, remained unclear, and it felt (to me and others) like a meeting of two separate groups. In recent weeks, we’ve made terrific progress both to clarify topics for this group and to build a sense of cohesion as a single group focused on institution-level issues.

Enrollment

Fall enrollment projections are similar to those I shared during my most recent update in June.  Our freshman class remains slightly ahead of projections, with transfers falling short of our target. Similarly, graduate enrollment appears stronger than forecast, with adult accelerated enrollments short of budget. On the whole, we are likely to achieve an enrollment mix that will result in net tuition revenue—which accounts for the vast majority of our operating budget—very close to our budget targets. This will be one of the topics discussed in greater detail at the business meeting held during August Seminar.

Benefits Task Force

The President’s Council received an update in mid-July from the Benefits Task Force (a group consisting of both faculty and staff) I’ve referred to in earlier editions of this communication. Based on a review of the College’s benefit package, a comparison with relevant institutions, and the feedback from the employee survey conducted last spring, the Task Force has identified of a few specific areas for further exploration. Some of those are areas where the College’s benefit appears to be less generous than the norm; others, not surprisingly, reflect areas where the College’s benefit appears to be more generous. This, too, will be a topic of conversation during the business meeting at August Seminar.

Speaking of Which…

Planning has begun in earnest for August Seminar, which is one more sign that we’re heading full speed toward the start of the academic year.

The tradition of August Seminar emerged in part from the need for the faculty to spend time together in preparation for the upcoming academic year, as many staff departments do during the course of the summer. That legacy continues through a schedule that contains a number of sessions primarily designed for faculty and academic staff, though all are welcome to attend sessions of interest. For example, Tuesday afternoon will be devoted to the topic of inclusion.  If you have not already, you will soon receive a draft schedule of this year’s Seminar from the Academic Dean’s Office via email.

I do want to be sure everyone has Tuesday morning, August 18 on their calendars. That opening session of August Seminar is designed for both faculty and staff, and will follow a format similar to the one we utilized last August: Mary Klink will introduce new members of our campus community, I will share some remarks about the state and direction of the college followed by a question-and-answer session, and we will conclude the morning with a brief “business meeting” to cover topics where updates are warranted. For those of you unable to attend in person, the opening session will streamed live on the web.

For the first part of the meeting to be beneficial, I’m going to need your help:

1.       First, questions constitute an essential part of any “question and answer” session! (Captain Obvious strikes yet again.)  I am hopeful that some questions will emerge from my remarks, but I suspect many of you may already have topics you might like to raise. Please feel free to bring those questions, whether they pertain to any of the information included in this communication, the future or current health of the college, trends in higher education, etc.

2.       Please also come prepared to share “kudos”—examples of students, faculty, or staff who have done something to merit recognition. I know that some of you have been away from campus for a while and might find this difficult…and I also know that many on our campus have done work over the past few months, including near the end of the last academic year, that deserves attention.

I look forward to seeing you on campus soon!