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Midwinter Board Meeting Update

The Dickinson Board of Trustees held its midwinter meeting last weekend. Outlined below are some of the key action and discussion items. 

Jim Chambers ’78, chair of the presidential search committee, provided the board with an update. The search is progressing well, and the committee, whose members include trustees, alumni, faculty, students and administrators, is optimistic that Dickinson is well on its way to meeting the July 1 goal for the 29th president to take office.  

This marked the third biannual joint meeting of the board and the Alumni Council. These meetings allow our trustees and council members to share ideas and address important issues facing Dickinson. This joint meeting particularly focused on internships and on preparation of Dickinson students for careers after graduation. The conversation included lunch with students who have held internships and an afternoon session on the subject. Phil Jones, dean of career development and assistant vice president for student life, and Amity Fox, associate dean of academic advising and director of the internship program, outlined efforts to work with students to secure meaningful internships and externships. Several students shared their internship experiences, and alumni who had hosted students also discussed the benefits of the programs.

During the meeting, the board voted to promote Andrew Wolff to the rank of associate professor of political science, with tenure, and accepted the report that Luca Lanzilotta of the Italian department has been promoted to the rank of senior lecturer. A further action item was approval of funding for residence facility renovations. In particular, the board allocated $2.54 million for needed renovations to McKenney Hall, including bathroom upgrades, landscaping enhancements, a new HVAC system, new windows and a new roof.

The board was pleased to hear that Standard & Poor’s (S&P) affirmed the college’s “A+” rating with a positive outlook in December 2016 as part of the college’s recent bond financing. Only 3 percent of S&P’s higher education ratings in 2016 were accompanied by a positive outlook (87 percent were stable; 10 percent were negative). 

Throughout the weekend, the board discussed the challenges posed by the rising cost of higher education with concomitant increase of discount rate, issues for all post-secondary institutions. The board committed to continue to take a close look at cost and especially the future of tuition.

Three special events brought the trustees into further engagement with members of the on-campus community. Applicants for the 2017 Young Alumni Trustee position had the opportunity to introduce themselves and talk with trustees during a reception. Trustees also attended the installation ceremony of Professor of English Wendy Moffat as the second John J. Curley ’60 and Ann Conser Curley ’63 Faculty Chair in Global Education. A trustee dinner with faculty members who hold endowed chairs at Dickinson and members of Alumni Council followed.

The weekend concluded with the annual meeting of members of the board’s Committee on Investments and leaders of Investure, Dickinson’s endowment managers, and the Dickinson Sustainability Investment Group. The session included a discussion of the opportunities and challenges surrounding sustainable investment, and three reports from students on dimensions of sustainable operations. The session provided members of the on-campus community, and especially the students, access to the board leadership that is rare in higher education.

As always, board members and the Alumni Council came away from the weekend invigorated by the thoughtful discussions with faculty, staff and students and with renewed excitement for Dickinson’s future.

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Published February 13, 2017