August 2016 Update | St. Lawrence University President's Office

August 2016 Update

Update for Campus
August 2016


In this update, we’ll repeat some news from our early summer update, when attention may have been on vacation plans. 


Highlights from June


Trustee Retreat:  The trustees’ time at Canaras, June 24-26, focused on extensive planning for our comprehensive fundraising campaign.  Hearing first from an ad hoc coordinating committee on major capital (facilities) priorities, participants learned about an informal summer planning team of “program shepherds” led by Professor Tom Greene, who will share the work with the campus in the fall. We then expanded our understanding of some representative “Big Ideas” that have already been shared on campus in committees and informal discussions, invited perspective to enhance and develop our campaign messages and tools, and agreed on specific next steps for our work ahead.  In small group discussions, retreat participants discussed five examples of “big ideas” (entrepreneurship, Connect SLU, Business in the Liberal Arts, the Sophomore Experience, and endowing what we already do well) to imagine ways these and other ideas could be developed and communicated for donor interest.  As we finish our first year of quiet campaign preparation, St. Lawrence has nearly $60 million in gift commitments, a fine start by all measures and comparisons.  Trustees also used the occasion to recognize the work of Valerie Lehr, who returned to the faculty on July 1 after nine years as our Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, and to welcome Karl Schonberg, who began his tenure in that role this summer. 

Reunion:  Over 850 Laurentians returned to campus to celebrate Reunion Weekend 2016, with approximately 240 alumni volunteers helping to make it the best in University history.  Together, our 16 milestone classes pledged and donated a combined total of $26 million, setting a new Reunion fundraising record.  Alumni Citations went to Hulit Pressley Taylor ’61, Barbara Gulbrandsen Hennessy ’73, Anne McGrath McManus ’75, and Christopher Spitzmiller ’94.  Tom Sy ’82 received the Sol Feinstone Humanitarian Award and Rick Beyer ’66 accepted the Manley Society Achievement Award.  My remarks to the annual Alumni Association gathering are posted online:  More Than Strictly Social.

News from July and August


Convocation:  My remarks “The Imperative of the Attentive,” from Convocation, our official first gathering of the academic year, are posted online. At the annual event, we honored faculty and staff for excellence.  Professor of Philosophy Erin McCarthy received the J. Calvin Keene Award and Associate Professor of History Mary Jane Smith received the Maslow Award.  Associate Dean for Academic Administration and Registrar Lorie MacKenzie is this year’s recipient of the Jack Taylor Award, and Skilled Tradesperson Kevin Wilcox will receive the Tom Coakley Award later this month.  We also welcomed new faculty and staff colleagues; their names and brief biographies will be posted online as soon as they are prepared.

The Class of 2020:  While our final statistics will be available later this fall, we share the information as we have it now.  Admissions reports 570 first-year students joined the Laurentian community, as well as 32 transfer students, for a total of 602 new students. They represent strong academic preparation, with 45% graduating in the top 10% of their class, an average high school grade point average of 91, and a median SAT of 1820. They attend St. Lawrence from 35 states and 25 nations, the highest numbers of the past decade.  We count 16% of them will be St. Lawrence legacies (family members of students or alumni). 10% are US students of color and 12% are international students, with either dual citizenship, or citizens of other nations.  This summer, University Advancement worked with the Admissions Office to hold nine receptions throughout the Northeast for first-year students and their families.  Last Sunday, we officially welcomed the students into our community with Matriculation; my remarks from the ceremony are posted online.

We continue to send Dean Jeff Rickey well wishes on his medical leave of absence; the Admissions and Financial Aid program is being managed capably by a team including Justin Sipher, Melissa Farmer Richards, Jeremy Freeman, Musa Khalidi, Patricia Farmer, and Lyndsay Malcomb.

Outcomes and Results:  Nearly 97 percent of recent St. Lawrence University graduates (Class of 2015) were either employed or attending graduate school less than one year after graduation, according to an annual survey conducted by St. Lawrence Career Services. Of those, more than 78 percent were primarily pursuing a career, and 18 percent were primarily attending graduate school. Eighty percent of recent graduates who are employed indicated that their work is related to their desired career path, and the number reporting they were generally or very satisfied with their employment remained strong at 95 percent. Our survey response rate was an industry leading 79.4 percent.

Athletics:  Our women’s soccer team traveled to Holland, and our field hockey team traveled to New Zealand, for exhibition games and international experience. Both trips were funded by donors and fundraising by the teams.  Our men’s hockey team has completed plans to travel to Belfast, Ireland, during Thanksgiving break to participate in the Friendly Four.

Summer Shepherds:  A group of 20 faculty and staff members, representing departments and facilities across campus, worked in July and August to identify current and future campus spatial needs. Facilitated by Professor Tom Greene, the summer shepherds established a procedure for determining facilities priorities and for adding commentary to existing data.  We have extensive studies to correlate, including past and current master plans, the Buildings and Grounds Facility Survey, the Sightlines report, and a learning spaces report.  After intensive summer study to compile and organize data, the summer shepherds’ work will be transitioned to committees of the established governance system as the fall semester begins.  The committee will host a forum early in the fall. 

Facilities:  I’ll offer updates on three campus projects in progress since early summer.   Herring Library, the older section of Herring-Cole Hall, is undergoing renovations, thanks to donor support, with architectural wood features, new stained glass medallion windows,  and carpeting similar to the Cole reading room.  A new AV system and new lighting will improve the functionality of space while retaining its historic beauty. Herring Library will provide “heritage” space for ceremonies, special events, readings, and lectures.  Our plan to transition staff from Whitman Annex to Madill Hall and Information Technology staff from Madill to Owen D. Young Library has made good progress this summer, with a preliminary new layout for Madill prepared by architects in consultation with academic support staff.  Further discussions with Libraries and Information Technology staff will help the plan for ODY to evolve, allowing us to develop a construction budget and secure trustee approval for the project.  Meanwhile, planned and related renovations to ODY Library’s Yellow Pipe Room were completed this summer.  We reconfigured the book stacks and created a space for additional student seating.  The addition of 15 tables to the Yellow Pipe Room, and the 60 seats they provide, will offset the reduction in available seating when IT operations and staff currently housed in Madill are relocated to ODY.  Finally, again thanks to donor support, we have made building improvements to Gunnison Riding Stables

University Communications:   Our staff analyzed the results of our recent magazine readership study to which nearly 2,000 alumni and parents participated. Their responses validated our belief that the magazine “strengthens personal connection to the institution” and encourages them to engage further with St. Lawrence. Watch for a full report soon.

Libraries and Information Technology:  Collaboration among the Libraries and IT, the Language Resource Center and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations resulted in a major grant award from the Gladys Brooks Foundation.  The grant helped to support the renovation this summer of the language labs in Carnegie Hall (rooms 212 and 214) and transformed the rooms into combination lab and flexibly configured learning spaces.   Each space is designed to better suit current pedagogies and to increase flexibility.  The grant also provides for a mobile web-conferencing system that will allow students at St. Lawrence to connect with people and cultures around the world.

The green bikes committee was awarded an innovation grant to add a new bike repair station.   Located in front of ODY, the repair station includes a heavy-duty pump as well as 8 common bicycle tools. It will allow students and the entire campus community all-season access for tire inflation and small repairs on the North end of campus. 

Finance:  At June 30, 2016 the value of the endowment was $268 million, down from $282 million at June 30, 2015.   We are completing the annual financial audit for FY16 and expect no concerns. 

Info Informals:  Mark your calendar for our Fall Info Informals, all located in Sykes Common Room and held at 4 pm:  Friday, September 9; Friday, October 7; Friday, November 11, and Friday, December 9.