December 2016 Update

Post-Board Update
William L. Fox
December 2016

On Friday, December 9, the St. Lawrence Board of Trustees convened for its annual update conference call.  I wish to pass along information shared with Board members, as well as other general news.

Admissions:  The Board heard a report from Jeff Rickey that Early Decision applications have increased 20% over 2015, and regular decision applications are up 6%, both indicators of strong demand.  Another very positive sign for enrollment is the record number of students and their families at our October and November Visit Days. 

Jeff will retire at the end of December, taking with him a heartfelt resolution of thanks from the Board; Jeff expressed his own appreciation to Board members, faculty, and staff colleagues and promised to wear with pride his 20+ St. Lawrence apparel items at least once a week.  I thanked the trustee, faculty, staff and student members of the search committee that recruit our next vice president of admissions and financial aid.  They include Val Lehr, who will chair the search; trustees Jo Ann Campbell ’86, Jon Cardinal ’08 and Donna Winston ’85; senior staff Bob Durocher and Melissa Farmer Richards; Alumni Executive Council Bill Cowan ’86;  faculty member Robin Lock; and students Caroline Catlin Johannson ’18 and Tanveer Kalo ’18.  An additional faculty member will soon be named to the committee.  Our professional search counsel team is Mary Napier and Laura Robinson.

Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion: The Board was pleased to learn more about our new colleague Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, who joins us in January from Stetson University, where she is Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology.  There, she was appointed by the university president to serve on its Diversity Inclusion Task Force, trained faculty and administrators on Intergroup Dialogue Pedagogy, and co-chaired an annual faculty symposium in inclusivity. The position of associate dean for diversity and inclusion is a new position at St. Lawrence.

 Advancement:  Tom Pynchon noted new gifts and multi-year commitments have increased over last year by 11%.  In a Campaign planning update, Tom shared that the Campaign plan is being drafted with the steering committee’s oversight, and communications materials are in the design phase.  He also reported on an active Laurentian events calendar, with 17 events over 30 days in December and January, including events that connect students with alumni in Washington, DC, Montana, and New York City.

 Academic Affairs:  I shared with the Board that Rouen, France, our venerable off-campus study site, has been consistently under-enrolled in recent years.  Because of this, we have tasked a faculty group to look at other options for study in France, in coordination with the dean and governance system, and, meanwhile, we will place the program in Rouen on hiatus for fall ‘17.   In the near term, we will offer alternatives with partner institutions for semester or year-long study in France to serve students who are interested.  Further, we will also use this time to consider long-term possibilities.

 Finance:  Vice President for Finance Joe Manory led a discussion of pricing strategies for Summerterm tuition to improve enrollments as well as to recognize the different student demand characteristics of our summer programs.  He also noted increased expense commitments in Admissions with the addition of a database manager, to improve our ability to analyze applications and understand probabilities of enrollment.   Finally, the Board discussed with us the preliminary strategy for the comprehensive fee increase, a decision made at the 2017 Winter meeting.  On our December call, we invite trustees to suggest additional questions they want us to explore before the discussion in February.

 University Honors: The Board approved the recommendation of the faculty for future recipients of honorary degrees at Commencement and for the 2017 Reunion Laurentian honorands.  I will have the pleasure of contacting those alumni in the next few weeks.

 Facilities Projects:  The donor-funded renovations to the Herring Library side of Herring-Cole are proceeding on schedule; we expect the restored space will open for the spring semester, providing a welcome site for campus ceremonies, cultural events and special presentation and teaching space.