Report on the February 2013 Board of Trustees Meeting

February 27, 2013

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We write to report on the meetings of the Board of Trustees held on campus on February 21, 22, and 23.  The Board joins us in thanking the many students, faculty members, and staff whose hard work and good counsel made our sessions richly productive.  

In its formal actions on Saturday morning, the Board was pleased to approve tenure and promotion to Associate Professor for Kavita Datla (History).  The Board elected Helen Drinan ’69, president of Simmons College in Boston, to a five-year term beginning in July.  Trustees approved a two-year extension to the term of the current Board Chair, for a total of five years ending in June 2015.  The Board approved the renovation of South Mandelle, and voted honorary degrees to Kavita Ramdas ’85, who will be the 2013 commencement speaker, Joanne Lupton ’66, Mary Mazzio ’83, and Mona Sutphen ’89. 

In its general sessions, Trustees focused on a wide range of topics.  The Board’s exploration of campus dining included small group dinners in five residence halls and Blanchard, accompanied by student and staff members of the community dining workgroup.  Trustees revisited the subjects of rightsizing and of instructional technology, two topics which will stay on our agenda as the College continues implementing the planning blueprint.  In general sessions as well as in committee meetings, the Board considered matters of regulatory compliance and institutional risk. On Thursday evening, Trustees had a preview of the brand platform recommended by the creative consultants for our branding initiative.  On Friday evening, Trustees were delighted to honor faculty members holding endowed chairs and directorships, together with the generous donors and fundraisers who make those chairs possible. It was a particular treat to hear brief talks by two members of the faculty:  Wei Chen, Marilyn Dawson Sarles M.D. Professor of Life Sciences and Professor of Chemistry, and Elizabeth Young, Carl M. and Elsie A. Small Professor of English.  Finally and very importantly, threaded throughout our three days of meetings were the many facets of the expanding Curriculum-to-Career initiative that is critical to our students’ success in navigating the world into which they will graduate. 

Trustees also addressed a wide range of subjects in a dozen committee meetings.  Among these subjects were the good progress of the comprehensive campaign (Advancement Committee);   career development (College Relations Committee);  faculty workload and dual-career faculty couples (Conference Committee);  current CPD operations (CPD Advisory Committee);  the work of the APC, including its subcommittee on learning goals (Education Committee);  the work of the Faculty Planning and Budget Committee on the cost of distribution requirements and on competitiveness of faculty salaries (Finance Committee);  support for transgender students (Student Affairs Committee).  The Student Affairs Committee also heard an impressive presentation by the Student Conference Committee on student views in a number of important areas. 

The Board is encouraged by progress on the strategies outlined in the Colleges planning blueprint, especially curriculum to career, enhanced advising, and several financial initiatives. The Board appreciates both the complexity and the necessity of working towards Mount Holyoke’s optimal size. Trustees expressed strong support for movement with all deliberate speed in adopting learning goals and aligning degree requirements in support of those goals.

Trustees join us in expressing gratitude and admiration for all that you bring to our shared enterprise, and for all that you do to make Mount Holyoke ever stronger.

Mary Graham Davis ’65, Chair of the Board
Lynn Pasquerella ’80, President of the College