Report on the October 2012 Board of Trustees Meeting

November 5, 2012

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We write to report on the meetings of the Board of Trustees held on campus on October 25, 26, and 27. All Trustees join us in thanking the many members of the Mount Holyoke community—students, faculty members, and staff—whose work made our meetings productive and successful. We especially appreciated hearing from students on Thursday, and from faculty at a number of points throughout the weekend.  As we do at each meeting, the Board met with the President, reviewing her goals as well as the goals of the Senior Staff and the College as a whole.  The schedule included three major presentations. On Thursday evening, the College’s branding and positioning consultants talked with us about fresh approaches to increasing Mount Holyoke’s visibility. On Friday we had a plenary session on technology in liberal arts education, with presentations both by trustees working in this area and by faculty members whose teaching has been enriched, and in some cases transformed, by technology.  The Board will continue to explore and support faculty and LITS initiatives in this area as we move through the year.  On Friday evening we heard from three participants in Community-Based Learning projects. A special treat was a reception in the Art Museum surrounded by the thought-provoking work of Kara Walker.

Much of the Board’s work is done in its twelve standing committees. The College Relations Committee discussed the branding initiative, admission, Alumnae Association activities, and celebrations of the College’s 175th anniversary. The Joint Conference Committee discussed the Dean of Faculty search with members of the search committee, and touched also on faculty load and rightsizing. The Advancement Committee heard a promising progress report on the Comprehensive Campaign, including the Legacy of Diversity campaign.  Faculty load was also discussed by the Education Committee, as was the curriculum-to-career initiative.  The Finance Committee approved funding to plan for the renovation of South Mandelle next summer and reviewed the expenditures and budget of Complementary Program Development (CPD). The Institutional Risk Committee was briefed on a range of issues involving regulatory compliance.  The Student Affairs Committee also discussed compliance, and appreciated the opportunity to hear from staff and students about AccessAbility Services.  In addition to the Board’s standing committees, two advisory committees offer Trustee support to projects of particular importance to Mount Holyoke at this moment in its history: Complementary Program Development and Curriculum to Career.

The theme throughout the Board’s general and committee sessions was implementation of the strategic planning blueprint developed and endorsed last year.  There has been clear progress.  More remains to be done and we look forward to continuing updates.

The Board met in formal session on Saturday morning to receive, discuss, and vote on actions recommended by committees.  We are pleased to report on two actions in particular, both important, and one historic.

On the recommendation of the Institutional Risk Committee, the Board of Trustees has formally expressed its full support for the President and administration as they take steps to enhance awareness and understanding of the Colleges’ and individuals’ obligations and liabilities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Art and their related acts and regulations.  Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.  Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect qualified individuals from discrimination based on disability.

On the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Board of Trustees voted to make no change in tuition, room and board for 2013-2014. This historic second year of flat tuition is built on the foundations we cited in last February’s letter to the community. Mount Holyoke remains committed to attracting and supporting academically talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds in the United States and around the world. Many colleges make that commitment; Mount Holyoke continues to lead the way. In the past, Mount Holyoke, along with other colleges, increased tuition, room, and board annually at rates that consistently outpaced inflation and growth in household income.  The College accompanied those past price increases with significant increases in financial aid, trying as far as possible, and with a growing percentage of our annual budget, to support the exceptional student body we have and continue to seek.  That model is not sustainable for higher education, and it is not sustainable for students and families in the current economic environment.  We projected a year ago that holding tuition, room, and board steady for the current year would not only improve the College’s affordability for students and families, but would actually help the College deliver and pay for the exceptional education we all value so much.  Those projections held true, and together with a renewed focus on cost containment, enable the Board to deliver a second year of good tuition news to our current and prospective students and their families.

On behalf of the entire Board, we thank the faculty, staff, students, and alumnae for all you bring and all you do.  This powerful and abiding College is every bit as necessary now as it was when Mary Lyon opened its doors 175 years ago.

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