Dear Laurentian friends,
Customarily the Board of Trustees retreat is held each June at Canaras with the picturesque Saranac Lake and the Adirondack mountains in the background. Like so many other campus traditions, this year’s event was planned differently and with health and safety as a top priority. The trustees, members of senior staff, faculty, student, and alumni delegates met via zoom for two hours this past Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to address the pressing needs, challenges, and opportunities for St. Lawrence University.
On Thursday afternoon, we welcomed members of the Experience St. Lawrence: The Task Force on Institutional Structure, Policy, and Planning as well as our third-party advisor Ernst and Young-Parthenon. The group provided an update on phase one programmatic working group implementation planning, the phase two administrative approach, and the next steps for the task force’s work.
I also spent considerable time updating the board on our plans for reopening in the fall, including our four guiding principles that have driven our planning. They had extensive discussions understanding the complexity, impact, and details of our plans for reduced density on campus during the fall and spring semesters and the addition of a summer semester. The plan allows every student to take a full course load while living on campus during two of the three semesters offered during the upcoming academic year.
During the Friday morning business meeting, Kimberly Flint-Hamilton, chief diversity officer, provided a similar update to trustees that she did for the Diversity and Inclusion forums that she held in early June for students, employees, and alumni. She provided detailed examples of the steps St. Lawrence has already taken, our plans for the future, and how members of our community can participate in this work.
The board also voted to approve the FY21 budget and elected three new Emeriti Trustees, including Bill Crombie ’69, Tom Saddlemire ’70, and Jim Tyler. I share in the board’s excitement about keeping these three individuals, who have all made significant positive contributions to our University, in close affiliation with the St. Lawrence.
I conclude my report with a word of appreciation for all members of our Laurentian community. The last few months have been the most challenging period that I have ever experienced during all my decades in higher education. I am proud of how our community pulled together and grateful for the continued flexibility and innovation required from all of us.