|• May 22, 2007|
Wabash College Board of Trustees
Joseph D. Barnette, Jr. ’61, Chairman of the Board
May 21, 2007
The weather was perfect in Crawfordsville for the Board of Trustees’ meeting and the College’s 169th Commencement ceremony. The spring Board meetings are always special because Trustees have the opportunity to get to know and honor the graduating seniors. This year’s class was not large — 160 graduates — but was very impressive. Almost half the seniors will go directly to graduate or professional schools, from USC to Virginia and from Cornell to the University of Hawaii. Seniors pursuing careers in the job market had high praise for the work of the Schroeder Center for Career Development, and our young graduates have accepted an impressive range of professional opportunities.
Two seniors gave Commencement addresses. Patrick Millikan, a native of Newburgh, Indiana, was a four-year varsity football letterman and became the 15th Wabash man to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Gregory Strodtman of Indianapolis was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, earned a Mackintosh Fellowship, and received a fellowship to a graduate program in history. Both are fine, well-rounded representatives for the Class of 2007.
The College also paid tribute to two of its own, granting honorary degrees to long-time Religion Professor Raymond B. Williams and Hanover College President Russell "Rusty" Nichols, who will retire this summer after an impressive 20-year term as Hanover’s 14th president.
As is customary, Trustees did their work in committee meetings on Friday then gathered for the full Board meeting Saturday morning. The central item of business, of course, was approving the graduating Class of 2007.
Roger Billings ’59 gave the report for the Academic Affairs Committee, which he chairs. The committee learned from Dean of the College Gary Phillips that Professor of Theater Jim Fisher, completing his 28th year at Wabash, is leaving the College this summer to become the department chair at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dean Phillips noted second-year history professor Yvonne Pitts has taken an exciting position in her field at Purdue University, where she’ll have the opportunity to work closely with graduate students. Dean Phillips said those moves added to what had been a very busy faculty hiring season, in which Wabash was able to hire its first choice candidates for five of six tenure track searches. Mr. Billings, who is a law professor at Northern Kentucky University, also explained an exciting new program called "LSAT Boot Camp," which is a program designed by members of the NAWM Board of Directors to better prepare pre-law students for the standardized exam. He noted that 35 students had participated in the inaugural three-day program.
Mr. Billings also gave Trustees an update on the ongoing faculty review of the College’s curriculum, which is being aided by the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash. Several proposals have been designed to stir conversation among faculty and administrators, but no formal action has been taken. The circle of discussion will be broadened and folded into the work of strategic planning this fall and beyond.
Mike Dill ’71 reported for the Admissions and Advancement Committee, which focused its work on the Annual Fund, reviewing the work of the Admissions Office, and learning more about the College’s financial aid policies. Mr. Dill said the Annual Fund’s fiscal year will end June 30 and there is a push in the final six weeks to secure more donors to increase the College’s alumni giving percentage. To date, fewer alumni have given more to Wabash, which appears to be a national trend in higher education philanthropy. On the Admissions front, Mr. Dill said the College had received a record number of applications this year and that 248 men had deposited to reserve a spot in the class for this fall. Dean Steve Klein reported his staff is cautiously optimistic that it will hit its goal of 250 new students in August.
The committee had its second of two meetings with Financial Aid Director Clint Gasaway ’86 to learn more about the College’s philosophy and national trends in an era dubbed "The Discount Wars" in higher education. More and more colleges, including public universities, are discounting their tuition at record levels in order to secure academically and athletically talented male students. That competition is due to the declining percentage of men attending college and puts pressure on Wabash, which is one of the few schools nationwide that continues to meet 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need.
Joe Turk H’00, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, presented to the Board the fiscal 2008 budget proposal that had been crafted by President White’s staff. Trustees discussed the budget and the various influences on it. Chief Financial Officer Larry Griffith said a long-term issue facing the College is expansion of the revenue stream. He said tuition increases aren’t keeping pace with expenses, and that the administration is working hard to examine pricing strategies and increased fund-raising to offset the imbalance. The $34-million operating budget was approved by the Board. Mr. Griffith also reported the College had secured a new insurance broker and provider, which gives Wabash better coverage with a reduced premium.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee, chaired by Fred Wilson ’69, reviewed athletics facilities, particularly the shared soccer and baseball fields at Mud Hollow. The committee will create a long-term plan to provide dedicated fields for both sports, and will look at the cost effectiveness of adding synthetic playing surfaces for football, baseball, and soccer. Mr. Wilson also reported on the ongoing fraternity maintenance program begun this year. Overall, fraternity houses — through routine inspections — are in better shape, but are not achieving the standard set by the College for cleanliness. Trustees approved a proposal to secure a full-time employee within Campus Services to oversee the program and work closely with fraternity house managers. The proposal also includes incentives for house managers to seek additional training and stay in their positions for longer periods of time.
The renovation of the old TKE house, which will become an independent residence hall, is on schedule for completion this summer. Work is about to begin on the new TKE house on the footprint where the old Sigma Chi house used to sit. A two-phase renovation of Delta Tau Delta will begin this summer and continue in the summer of 2008.
Finally, Mr. Wilson reported President White and his staff had begun meeting with two possible campus master planning firms. The campus master planning process will be done concurrently with College-wide strategic planning.
Bill Wheeler ’83 reported for the College Life Committee, which met with three graduating seniors — Nathan Bates, Will Certain, and Trent Rogers, all of whom graduated with honors. They discussed their experiences on campus, and Mr. Wheeler referred to them as "real Wabash men, poised and confident." He also gave the Board a briefing on the work of the Schroeder Center for Career Development. Over 70 percent of graduating seniors had completed at least one internship, he said, and the list of graduate schools and employment options was quite impressive. He also noted that 158 students would be on campus this summer, conducting research with faculty, participating in the summer Business Immersion Program, working on Present Indiana projects, and other on- and off-campus internships.
John Bachmann ’60 gave the report of the Investment Policy Committee. The ten-year return on the College’s various investments is approximately 10 percent, and the current value of the endowment is in excess of $370 million.
Kevin Clifford ’77, on behalf of the Committee on Trusteeship, presented the election slate for new Trustees and those whose four-year terms were expiring. Re-elected to four-year terms were Victor DeRose ’74, Rade Kljajic ’78, and Harry "Mac" McNaught ’76. Elected to initial four-year terms were Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne ’72 and Jim Davlin ’85. Dr. Shelbourne is an Indianapolis-based orthopedic surgeon who specializes in surgical rehabilitation of the knee. Mr. Davlin is the treasurer of the John Deere Corporation. Mr. Clifford also announced that Dr. Jim Cumming ’61 had won re-election as Alumni Trustee in balloting by the National Association of Wabash Men.
After nine years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I have decided to step down, but will continue as an active Trustee. The Board elected Stephen Bowen ’68 to succeed me as Board Chair. Trustee David Shane ’70 was elected to replace Mr. Bowen as Executive Committee Chair. All other Board officers were re-elected to one-year terms.
Mr. Bachmann and David Givens ’56 completed their terms as active Trustees and chose to move to emeritus status. The Board expressed its sincere gratitude for their service. Mr. Bachmann had served since 1982 and had been chair of the Investment Policy Committee for much of that tenure. Mr. Givens was elected to the Board in 1987 and served as Chairman of the Executive Committee, and was a stalwart member of the Budget and Finance and Investment Policy committees.
In his President’s Report, President White reflected on the work of his first year leading the College and expressed his appreciation to the Trustees, alumni, the Deans and CFO, students, faculty, and staff for their work in a seamless administrative transition. He thanked all for the good spirit and excitement of the Inauguration festivities, and especially noted the work of Jim Amidon, chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee.
President White then discussed the timeline and parameters of the strategic planning process that will be underway in August. He outlined the various conditions in which planning will take place and the keys to developing a plan that will have campus-wide involvement in process and execution. President White asked Board members John Fox ’64 and David Shane to help lead the planning efforts in concert with President White and his staff, and to help to keep the Board engaged in the ongoing process and on campus discussions. The goal for the process is to have a draft before the Board at its January meeting.
On a personal note, it has been a great joy to serve as Board Chair these last nine years. Many good things have happened for our College and its students. Wabash is in excellent shape and has capable leadership moving forward. Charlene and I express our gratitude for the trust placed in us and for the many friendships we have developed along the way.
As always, the Board values the input of Wabash’s alumni and friends. Please feel free to contact the Board by emailing email@example.com.
Joseph D. Barnette, Jr. ’61, Chairman of the Board