Board of Trustees Newsletter — October, 2007
November 5, 2007
Board of Trustees Newsletter
Stephen S. Bowen ’68, Chairman of the Board
Wabash College educates men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely
November 5, 2007
The Wabash College Board of Trustees met on a glorious fall weekend in Crawfordsville not only to conduct our normal business, but also, and more importantly, to participate in strategic and master planning discussions. Many Trustees arrived early to attend a celebration of the teaching, scholarship, and creative pursuits of the Wabash faculty, and many stayed late to see the football team trounce Oberlin — their seventh win against no losses. Trustees also attended the 28th Annual Lafollette Lecture, given by Professor J.D. Phillips, chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.
The Board was pleased to welcome two new trustees: Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne ’72, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon, and James A. Davlin V ’85, Vice President and Treasurer of the John Deere Company.
Saturday’s Board meeting consisted of various committee reports, summaries of which follow:
The Academic Affairs Committee, chaired by John Fox ’64, discussed with Dean Gary Phillips and members of the faculty three important topics:
The curriculum: After a lengthy faculty review process, the curriculum is likely to remain essentially as is. Efforts are underway, however, to augment and enrich Freshman Tutorial, the Cultures and Tradition course, and the second semester senior experience.
Faculty recruitment and retention: Changing faculty demographics continue to be an area of concern. The number of new Ph.D.s entering the job market has been relatively flat in recent years, and this has resulted in increased competition among colleges in attracting and hiring new faculty. Although to date the College has been able to achieve its hiring goals and to hire its "first choice" candidates, the College cannot rest on its accomplishments. Accordingly, President White, Dean Phillips and others are working hard to formulate plans and develop resources that will enable the College to continue to meet its hiring needs and thereby to maintain the historic high quality of a Wabash education. It is estimated that Wabash will need to hire 30 new faculty by 2020.
The Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education: This study is being conducted by the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash and involves 27 colleges and universities. Data on Wabash student experiences as compared to student experiences at other institutions participating in the study will inform the strategic planning process going forward.
Mike Dill ’71, chair of the Admissions and Advancement Committee, reported positive news on both fronts. The Admissions Office brought in 250 new students and three transfer students to mark the ninth year in a row the College has met or exceeded its goal. (Overall enrollment is 917, the largest in College history.) In addition, the Advancement Office achieved its Annual Fund goal with $2.76 million in gifts, the third highest total ever. The goal for the current fiscal year is $2.85 million on the way to meeting the Hays Challenge, which if met will provide an additional $1.1 million in scholarship revenue. The overall fund-raising total for fiscal 2007, including the Annual Fund, was $8.6 million.
Larry Hutchison ’63, chair of the Audit Committee, distributed copies of the College’s financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2007, and reported that once again the College had received a "clean" report from its outside auditors. Joe Turk H’00, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, reported that the College had a small budget surplus for fiscal 2007 and is now on track for a positive outcome in 2008. Wabash, like all colleges and universities, however, is concerned about the relationship over time of tuition revenues to operating costs, and this will be closely monitored by the President’s staff and the Committee.
Fred Wilson ’69, chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, updated the Board on various construction projects. The renovation of College Hall was finished on schedule and on budget and now houses 77 independent men. The new facility for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion will be ready for occupancy in the spring, and the new TKE house will be ready for occupancy next fall. Each of these projects is on schedule and on budget. The Buildings and Grounds Committee also met with Chris Chivetta, a principal of Hastings and Chivetta, the St. Louis design firm that will manage the master planning part of the strategic and master planning process. The master planning process will focus on such things as the outdoor athletics facilities, the campus center and upgrades to older academic buildings.
Gary Reamey ’77, chair of the College Life Committee, reported on the Committee’s "rich and wide-ranging" meeting and conversation with Professors Lon Porter (Chemistry) and Peter Mikek (Economics), and seniors Lincoln Smith, Brandon Stewart, and Jesse James. Professor Porter commented that Hays Hall, which houses the Biology and Chemistry departments, is ideal in all aspects — classroom teaching, presentations, lab facilities, and collaborative research. Professor Mikek discussed the positive impact of internships and immersion trips on overall student development. The students talked about their personal experiences and some general themes — improved fraternity pledge percentages linked to more effective marketing; better relations between independents and fraternity men due to regular meetings of student leaders and deans; and effective student government, which oversees an annual budget of approximately $500,000 to support 67 student clubs and organizations on campus.
Bill Wheeler ’83, chair of the Investment Policy Committee, reported on conversations with the College’s investment managers. He also indicated that the value of the endowment at September 30 was approximately $395 million, which represents 1.9% growth for the quarter and 16.5% growth for the prior 12 months.
Kevin Clifford ’77, chair of the Committee on Trusteeship, discussed briefly the results of a Board evaluation survey that was conducted over the summer. The survey is part of the Committee’s ongoing efforts to monitor and improve as appropriate the Board’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.
President Pat White apprised the Board on recent grant activity. The College has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation, and has been invited to apply for grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the James Kemper Foundation. The Mellon grant will support new faculty development.
President White has assembled five committees that have been working on strategic planning since the start of the school year. Faculty and staff representatives of those groups joined with Trustees for 90-minute breakout sessions Saturday morning. The conversations dealt with the qualities of the students we wish to recruit and the qualities they will need upon graduation to be effective in the broader world. The Board found the conversations helpful and insightful and looks forward to continued involvement in the strategic planning process. In this regard, the January Board meeting will be extended for an additional day devoted to strategic planning discussions.
This year marks the 175th anniversary of the College, and it is an exciting time for all of us. The strategic and master planning process now under way, coupled with the hard work of virtually everyone at the College, will enable us to imagine and realize better experiences for Wabash men as we fulfill our mission by educating them to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely. Please join the conversation. As always, the Board values the input of Wabash alumni and friends. You can contact the Board through email.
Stephen S. Bowen ’68
Chairman of the Board of Trustees