Fall 2019 Board of Trustees Meeting Summary

Updates on the fall Board meeting, the dedication of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab and a tribute to Mindy McWilliams Lewis ’75, P’05.

Dear members of the Mount Holyoke community,

We write to update you on the recent meeting of the Board of Trustees, which took place on campus from September 26 to September 28, 2019.

The trustees’ time on campus was spent in a wide range of meetings and gatherings. We were delighted to welcome new trustees Mary Hughes ’74 and Ke Isabella “Isabel” Wu ’89. Following a new-trustees orientation held in the Library Room of the Dining Commons, they joined their fellow trustees for a highly informative session on the admission process at Mount Holyoke, led by the associate deans of admission. 

Later, the trustees were joined for a reception and dinner by representatives of several elected faculty committees, including Kimberly Juanita Brown (Faculty Conference Committee); Katherine C. (KC) Haydon ’00 (LITS Advisory Committee); Holly Hanson (Advisory Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid); Lynn M. Morgan (Advisory Committee on Appointments, Reappointments and Promotions); Naoko Nemoto (Academic Priorities Committee) and Jared Schwartzer (Advisory Committee on Multicultural and Community Life).

In its formal actions, the Board approved the awarding of 12 Bachelor of Arts degrees, one certificate for post-baccalaureate study, and 22 Master of Arts in Teaching degrees on October 12, 2019.

In other formal actions, the Board approved the following:

  • the recommendation for retirement for Donna Van Handle (German studies) and Robert Eisenstein (Five College Senior Lecturer in Music)
  • the recommendation for tenure for Olivia Aguilar (Environmental Studies), the recently appointed director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment
  • a proposal to finance two bond issuances outstanding as well as $40 million in new money to finance planned capital projects
  • a proposal to receive a real-estate gift to the College, to be sold in keeping with the College’s Gift Acceptance Policy
  • a revision of the bylaws to rename the Advancement Committee the College Relations Committee and to give the Committee general oversight over matters pertaining to the College’s Advancement and Communications divisions and the relationship with the Alumnae Association 

The President’s report provided updates on numerous issues, including national and state policies impacting the College; ongoing conversations in higher education tied to academic freedom of speech; college rankings; Mount Holyoke’s recently arrived class of 2023 and other new members of the community; ongoing collaboration between the Alumnae Association and the College; the new location of and staffing in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and their work, including Title IX trainings, outreach and support; a $100,000 Mellon Grant for Presidential Initiatives, in support of programs designed to enhance the community’s ability to engage in conversations across ideological difference; and a wide range of activities and programs in the Division of Student Life, among others.

Along with their usual committee meetings on Friday, the Board was updated by Vice President for Advancement Kassandra Jolley about the planning for the College’s next comprehensive campaign. Later, Lori Hendricks ’92, Director of Athletics, Marcella Runell Hall, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, and Jon Western, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, reported on strategic planning in the Athletics division and responded to questions. Finally, the Board was updated on the Community Center and Dining Commons in a presentation and discussion focused on fiduciary oversight and improved dining options, as well as on the ways in which the complex has enhanced a sense of activity and community on campus.

On Friday evening, the trustees joined staff, students, faculty, administration and alumnae in celebration of the dedication of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab. The Fimbel Lab, made possible as a result of the generosity of Nancie L. Fimbel ’68 and other donors, is located in an 8,000-square-foot space in the newly renovated former dining facility of Prospect Hall. Trustees were able to see the Fimbel Lab in action as students, staff and faculty demonstrated some of the many ways in which it is being utilized to encourage interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial work, creativity and problem solving.

The formal meeting of the Board opened with a tribute to Mindy McWilliams Lewis ’75, P’05, who was to assume the position of Board chair prior to her untimely death in June 2019. Board vice chair Rhynette Northcross Hurd ’71 shared a touching video tribute to Mindy, after which trustees gathered on Skinner Green around an oak tree recently planted in Mindy’s memory. They paid tribute to her and laid white roses at the foot of the tree in remembrance of her. It was agreed that a mighty oak planted at the hub of campus activity was a fitting tribute to Mindy.

As always, we thank you for your continued support of the College and for the many efforts that contributed to a productive Board meeting.


Karena Strella ’90
Chair, Board of Trustees

Sonya Stephens