Winter 2020 Report on the Board of Trustees Meeting | St. Lawrence University President's Office

Winter 2020 Report on the Board of Trustees Meeting

Dear Laurentian Friends:

The St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees assembled for its winter meeting Thursday, February 20, and adjourned Saturday, February 22. I wanted to share with you the highlights of our time together.

As has become our tradition, the winter meeting offers an opportunity for trustees and faculty to gather in informal settings to get to know one another.  On Thursday evening, about 25 newly-tenured and newly-promoted faculty colleagues dined with trustees and we hear from all accounts the discussions were lively and rewarding.  Trustee interactions with faculty also included, of course, conversations with faculty representatives to committees as well as with our two Faculty Delegates.

For our plenary Strategic Issues session, with trustees, delegates, and senior staff, we welcomed David Acker, CEO of St. Lawrence Health Systems. He has led a 13-year (and continuing) change management process inspired by internal aspiration and external considerations, regulatory and financial.  Mr. Acker’s insight furthered the discussions between Faculty Council and Senior Staff at our January retreat; we thought our trustees and others in the Board sessions, including campus leadership of the Experience St. Lawrence Task Force, would appreciate the nature of change.  Mr. Acker’s presentation was followed by a panel of trustees who themselves have led or participated in institutional change efforts. In a separate gathering, trustees heard an update from members of the Experience St. Lawrence Task Force on their plan, timing, scope and role of the third-party advisor. I expect a more detailed update from the Task Force to be released later this week.

Some highlights from a few of our dozen committees follow.

Trustees learned through the Promotion and Recruitment Committee that this year’s Early Decision numbers are trending ahead of last year. We have nearly doubled the number of students who are part of our early release strategy as well. This very successful program started last year and notifies top academic students of their admissions decision earlier in the process. The committee also learned that Regular Decision applications are trending down nationally at all private colleges and universities and St. Lawrence is not immune to that trend. Finally, they reviewed new communications strategies that have been implemented to improve our ability to yield the class.

After substantial debate and at the recommendation of the Budget and Finance Committee, the Board voted to establish our base comprehensive fee for 2020-21 at $73,900 an increase of 3.5% for tuition, room, and board. Trustee discussions focused on ways St. Lawrence can minimize the increase we ask families of families and continue to make our educational experience affordable for all who wish to take advantage of it.

The Student Life Committee began an exploration of assessment modes in the division.

The University Properties Committee heard updates on projects related to classroom utilization and renovation, the Appleton Arena renovation, Dean-Eaton preservation, the annual capital allocation, and energy usage.

The Academic Affairs Committee primary discussion topic was ways to better serve the whole student by integrating curricular and co-curricular initiatives.

Finally, the Campaign Steering Committee heard about the excellent progress in our advancement area, including news that $177 million in gifts and pledges have been received to date. They also discussed strategies to reach the $225 million goal.

Extending thanks to all who assisted with the trustee weekend, I welcome your questions at anytime.

Bill Fox