Report on the May 2012 Board of Trustees Meeting

May 9, 2012

Dear Members of the Mount Holyoke Community,

We write to report on the recent meetings of the Board of Trustees, held on campus on May 3, 4, and 5. In addition to the usual committee and Board meetings, the trustees held three plenary sessions and a dinner in honor of departing trustees and staff. The Board approved the operating budget for 2012-2013, the awarding of degrees and certificates at commencement on May 20, and a number of faculty reappointments and promotions.

The Board was joined for its three plenary sessions by members of the Faculty Conference Committee, faculty members on the College Planning Committee, chairs of several faculty committees, and the president of the Mount Holyoke AAUP chapter. The first plenary focused on sciences, with Janice Hudgings, Associate Dean of Faculty, introducing presentations by three faculty members: Kathy Aidala in Physics, Renae Brodie in Biological Sciences, and Audrey St. John in Computer Science. The second plenary featured a report from the College’s branding consultant, Elizabeth Scarborough of SimpsonScarborough, a marketing research and strategy firm focused exclusively on higher education. The third plenary focused on financial and strategic planning, with Dean of Faculty Chris Benfey and Vice President for Finance and Administration Ben Hammond discussing plans for implementing the strategies and steps set forth in the College Planning Committee’s Strategic Planning Blueprint (Strategic Planning Blueprint May 2012).

At its formal meeting on Saturday the Board was pleased to approve promotion to the rank of Professor for Robin Blaetz, Associate Professor of Film Studies, and Jon Western, Five College Associate Professor of International Relations. Mark Lauer, Lecturer in German Studies, was granted promotion to Senior Lecturer. Among a number of other actions taken by the Board on the recommendation of the Education Committee, we were especially honored to confer emeritus status on eight exceptionally distinguished members of the faculty: Frank Brownlow, Nancy Campbell, Edwina Cruise, Joseph Ellis, Mohammed Jiyad, Roberto Márquez, Marion (Bonnie) Miller, and Harriet Pollatsek. Mount Holyoke’s light dims with their departure, then brightens again with the appointment of thirteen talented new assistant professors.

The Board approved an operating budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 that balances expenditures of nearly $117 million, including a raise pool of 2% for faculty and staff and an additional .5% salary pool for promotions and equity adjustments, against student revenues, gifts and grants, investment income, and other revenue of $114.4 million plus $2.6 million in funding from reserves. As projected, this budget is very tight, and shows unrestricted expenditures increasing faster than revenues by approximately 1.3 percentage points. Bending this cost curve down to meet our goal of financial sustainability will require difficult choices and continued hard work. The Strategic Planning Blueprint, endorsed unanimously by the Board, outlines the strategies and steps that lead us toward this goal if pursued with the collaborative intensity that is a hallmark of the Mount Holyoke community.

One of the four strategies in the Planning Blueprint is to gain new revenues from new markets. The chief engine of this strategy is Complementary Program Development. CPD, as it has been known since its 2010 inception, has developed an infrastructure and a set of programs that are projected to return revenues to the College’s operating budget. As CPD transitions from founder Steve Herman to new leadership, and as it develops more robust programming, it needs more sharply defined oversight and authority. To this end, the Board on Saturday asked that the College develop a governance structure that will increase CPD’s effectiveness, while keeping CPD under Board oversight, reporting to the President, with the campus CPD Oversight Committee continuing to include faculty members, the Dean of Faculty, and the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

At next year’s Board meetings, we look forward to updates on the steps outlined in the Planning Blueprint, and to plenary sessions on topics of strategic importance to Mount Holyoke’s future. One such topic is technology, where we have growing expertise both on the Board and among our faculty and staff. The Five Colleges and Technology Committee had a preview of this topic this past weekend, with inspiring presentations by four faculty members—Rogelio Miñana, Eva Paus, Kate Singer, and Jon Western—on the use of technology in the classroom.

Six trustees are retiring from the Board at the end of this academic year: Sava Berhane ’07, Mary Beth Daniel ’82, Ludmila Schwarzenberg Hess ’67, Audrey McNiff ’80, Susan Mozena ’67, and Jay Sarles. They were honored on Friday evening, as were departing officers Charlie Haight, Vice President for Development, Stephen Herman, Senior Advisor to the President, and Donal O’Shea, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty.

The Board has brought on a number of new trustees, with four joining in the current year and four more beginning their terms this summer. This year’s four—Debra Martin Chase ’77, Suzanne George ’90, Heather Harde ’91, and Karena Strella ’90—are profiled on the College’s website: MHC Welcomes New Trustees. Incoming trustees are Ann Blake ’85, Elizabeth Cochary ’79, Chau Ly ’97, and the new Young Alumna Trustee, defined as a member of the three most recent graduating classes, Marija Tesla ’11. We are very pleased to have the Board so strongly renewed, and we extend heartfelt thanks to the departing trustees who have done so much to ensure the health and future of Mount Holyoke.

A year ago, we ended our May letter by describing the College’s sharply clarified sense of the challenges ahead coupled with optimism about our ability to meet those challenges. The Board’s own optimism has grown over this past year, as an impressively smart and dedicated group of faculty, staff, and students presented results of enormous work in task forces, committees, and forums, all aimed at driving us toward a clear set of steps, many already underway, that will guide us to a more financially sustainable, and an even better and stronger, Mount Holyoke.

We thank faculty, staff, students, and alumnae for the support and good counsel you continue to give to us, to one another, and to the powerful mission of this extraordinary College.

With best wishes for a fulfilling summer,

Mary Graham Davis, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Lynn Pasquerella, President