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Work in Progress - September 23

  • Wednesday, Sep 23, 2015

It is tough to beat fall weather in Wisconsin, especially over the past week. Our warm, dry stretch arrived just in time for the many activities involved in Family Weekend, held last Friday-Sunday. More than 300 alumni, friends, parents, and students attended the first ever President’s Tailgate on Saturday morning. I would have made only one change to that event--I would have applied sunscreen!  Special thanks go to the folks in special events and facilities, food service, athletics, student development, and alumni relations for their fine work in organizing Family Weekend.

Strategy Work

As you may recall, we are in year four of a five year strategic plan. With that in mind, the Cabinet named strategy articulation and development as a major priority for the upcoming year. In the next few weeks, I’ll be convening a steering committee to lead the campus through that process.

A process like strategic thinking rarely feels urgent, yet this topic may well be the most important we address in the upcoming year. This process, and this year, represents a unique opportunity to advance our efforts to build a stronger Edgewood College to meet the needs of students and society both today and tomorrow. For those of you who might be interested, I’ve published to the College Assembly site a document that I shared with the Cabinet in August. I welcome any questions or comments you may have.

2015-16 Operating Budget

As I introduced a couple of weeks ago, net tuition revenue for fall remains short of target. To reiterate, that shortfall does not create a deficit in the current year; we still expect to receive more revenue than the level of expenses we will incur. The variance, however, is large enough that I will be submitting budget revisions to the Finance, Audit, and Investment Committee of our Board of Trustees by the end of this month. I will share with you the results and implications of that committee meeting by early October. I am grateful to our Trustees and to the members of the Planning & Budget Committee, President’s Council, and Cabinet who have provided advice to me throughout this process.

Benefits Task Force

The Benefits Task Force, whose work I’ve referred to a number of times since they began work last spring, is in the process of sharing preliminary findings from their comparison of the College’s benefits to other relevant organizations and groups. As was shared at August Seminar, that comparison has identified areas where the College’s benefits exceed the norm and others where the package is short of what appears to be typical. Please continue to attend the series of forums being held across campus to learn more and to share your reactions to the findings that will inform our next steps with regard to benefits.

Residence Hall progress

You can see the physical structure taking shape, and the residence hall expansion is in good shape in terms of both time and budget. In fact, if you are interested in following more closely, Edgewood College student Trevon Ampe—a Findorff intern—publishes an update regularly.

As we thoroughly vetted the residence hall project with students last fall, it became evident that some other changes would also be necessary to attract juniors and seniors to stay on campus. With that in mind:

  • Room and board rates for next fall are being reviewed to ensure that they are priced and structured appropriately.
  • A “grab-and-go” food service outlet will be added to the lower level of Dominican Hall, in what is now the multi-purpose room. The Space Advisory Board and our facilities leadership has also begun to identify options to ensure that the impact on those adjacent to the room (right now, the Math Department) is as low as possible.
  • Two sets of apartments (26 spaces) will be added to Dominican Hall next summer in place of the current design. This represents the preferred style of housing for many upperclass students. Over time, if and as the need for additional apartments becomes evident, we have the capacity to add more apartments or co-ops.

By taking these actions now, the folks in Residence Life can begin promoting on-campus housing to our rising juniors and seniors in the next month—in time for those students to make plans to stay on campus. This represents the possibility of a deep, positive shift in our campus culture, similar to what the construction of Dominican Hall did for the experience of our sophomores. Our ability to offer housing to more students for longer in their Edgewood College experience means that we have a chance to keep and develop student leaders, to increase participation in on-campus events, and to deepen the bonds of community further. Please encourage students to pursue this great opportunity!

Digital Signage

You’ve probably noticed some ‘digital signage’ around campus. These monitors emerged in part from the Transformation Fund request to support Engaged Learning, in light of the need to create greater visibility for engaged learning activities. Of course, these monitors also provide information about other events on campus. The events that appear on the digital signs come from the College Calendar, located in Edgewood Express. Feel free to consult—and to direct students to consult—those monitors to see what’s happening on campus…and if there’s an event you’d like to share just fill out the form which is available online.