Annual Update From the Board of Trustees

Dickinson’s Board of Trustees met last weekend for its annual meeting. Over the course of the weekend, trustees reviewed and adopted the operating budget for the 2017-18 year, received updates on several construction projects that are planned or underway, including the new residence hall, and met at length with students, administrators and faculty to discuss the many issues surrounding the topic of free speech on campus.

The Committee on Trustees interviewed four outstanding graduating senior finalist candidates for the Young Alumni Trustee position. A nominee was selected and presented to the full board for approval, and will be announced during Commencement later this month.

The board reviewed advancement results for the year and were encouraged by the success of the record-breaking Day of Giving, held April 25, that raised almost $900,000 from more than 3,200 alumni. In addition, it was announced that Jim Chambers ’78, who chaired the presidential search committee, and his wife Niecy are making a $1 million gift to the college to support scholarship and restoration of historic buildings on campus. Chambers told his fellow trustees that the energy, excitement and passion alumni feel for the college must translate into tangible gifts that can help move Dickinson forward. He said he hoped the gift will inspire other alumni to contribute more generously to the college.

Trustees approved $1.8 million in strategic reinvestment expenditures, including replacing the field hockey turf, lighting upgrades and replacement of the East College elevator. KPMG was approved as the independent auditor and tax advisor to the college, and trustees directed the college’s space-planning committee to recommend potential multipurpose uses for the former president’s house at 212 West High Street. A special task force on college finances also met. The task force is examining the current business model from a long term, strategic perspective, and is expected to offer findings to the full board in early 2018.

The Periodic Review Report, which is a five-year comprehensive review required as an update to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Dickinson’s accrediting body, was reviewed by the board.

President-elect Margee Ensign was able to attend many of the meetings over the weekend, and trustees reviewed her transition plan as well as plans for her inauguration, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, as part of Homecoming & Family Weekend. Trustees also enjoyed numerous opportunities to meet with members of the Dickinson community, including members of the senior class who are admissions volunteers, newly tenured and promoted faculty members and members of the presidential search and transition committees.

The board took the opportunity to thank Neil Weissman for his outstanding efforts to move the college forward while serving as interim president this past year, and also said farewell and thank you to three trustees who have reached the end of their terms: Kayla Muirhead ’15 (upon completion of her two-year term as Young Alumni Trustee), Ty Saini ’93 and Frank James ’79. 

This weekend also marked a change in board leadership, as Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77 stepped down as chair. Tom Kalaris ’76, P’11 was elected chair and John Jones ’77, P’11 was elected vice chair. “It is with mixed emotions that I step down from a post which I have held since 2008,” Reynolds said. “While I have appreciated having the opportunity to play a part in moving the college forward over these past nine years, I know that Tom and John will continue to work with the college’s leadership to further strengthen Dickinson’s position among the nation’s most highly selective liberal-arts colleges. Serving as chair has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I look forward to continuing to serve Dickinson as a trustee in the years to come.”

The weekend concluded with the annual Scholarship Luncheon, during which trustees and other scholarship donors were able to meet the students who are recipients of their funds and learn about the impact the scholarships have had.

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Published May 9, 2017