Updates from Campus Forum and Board of Trustees Meeting

Dear Laurentian Community,

I write to share updates regarding two important events that occurred last week:

  • An open forum on sexual misconduct
  • The Board of Trustees fall meeting 

I hope you will find the summaries below helpful, and I look forward to our continued work together.

Kate Morris

Forum on Sexual Misconduct

We must all agree that sexual misconduct on campus is unacceptable. I am proud of students’ recent engagement on this topic and your strong desire to ensure the University is committed to effective prevention of sexual misconduct and effective response to any sexual misconduct that may be reported.  I commend the student leaders who organized Purple Week last week. I have heard that hundreds of students came together to support survivors and that Take Back the Night was powerful. Furthermore, last Wednesday, several hundred students attended an open forum with a panel of faculty and administrators. On behalf of those panel members, let me thank students for your courage and honesty in expressing your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Students, the panelists learned from you on Wednesday evening, and we hope you learned more about some of our policies and practices, as well. There are numerous follow-ups in progress as a result of Wednesday evening’s session, including (but not limited to):

  • Consolidating and organizing the notes panelists took to share with students as a summary of the event
  • Pulling together statistical information students requested
  • Ongoing recruitment for the open position of Title IX Coordinator/Sexual Misconduct Prevention Educator
  • Development of a standing committee to provide strategic leadership on the causes, prevention, and response to sexual misconduct on campus

In addition, students asked for a follow-up session in several weeks for reporting on the various follow-up items from the forum, as well as additional opportunities to ask questions and hear answers. I have asked Hagi Bradley, Vice President and Dean of Student Life, to coordinate this opportunity. Please stay tuned for more information about the date, time, and location.

Board of Trustees Meeting

I was pleased to welcome members of the Board of Trustees to campus last Thursday and Friday. All New York State and St. Lawrence University COVID-related safety protocols were followed. All committee meetings were held remotely in the two weeks prior. The trustees were joined by faculty, student, and alumni delegates as well as senior staff.

Thursday evening at the opening session of the meeting, I highlighted some of the positive news since the previous meeting of the trustees in June, including:

  • The University navigating the COVID surge that occurred earlier in the semester.
  • The success of Laurentian Weekend for families and students in late September.
  • The University endowment is now valued at more than $400 million, for the first time ever.

During that session, the board also received a progress report from the Experience St. Lawrence Task Force and an update from an ad hoc Committee on Tuition Pricing about their work to date.

Friday morning was focused on student well-being. Board members heard from two panels, one on the current state of student wellness and another on the programs and initiatives being implemented to provide support to students. Panelists included individuals representing students, faculty, and members of the wellness, safety and security, counseling, and student life teams. Panelists discussed the challenges members of our community are facing this year as we continue to navigate COVID, efforts to support students through new and preexisting mental health concerns, and the prevention and response to sexual misconduct on campus.  Trustees heard about the newly created Wellness Education office and  a new partnership with the JED foundation that will include a multi-year strategic collaboration to assess and enhance current mental health and well-being initiatives to create positive, lasting, systemic change in the campus community. 

Friday afternoon, during the business meeting Steve Hietsch, vice president for finance and administration, provided an overview of the University’s finances. Although Senior Staff revised the FY22 budget as requested by the trustees in June, projected expenses continue to outpace projected revenues for this fiscal year. In addition, we are planning a financial town hall for faculty and staff in early November. 

October 28, 2021