October 2019

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The board of trustees recently concluded its two-day fall series of meetings, during which we discussed key issues and opportunities for Puget Sound, with a particular emphasis on student success, enrollment, and retention. We welcomed several new trustees; enjoyed meeting with students, faculty and staff members; and advanced several key initiatives to support Puget Sound and the 10-year Leadership for a Changing World strategic plan.

Welcome to New and Returning Trustees. The board is enriched each year by the generosity, expertise, and perspectives of new members. This fall we are happy to welcome returning trustees Kathleen Duncan ’82, a trustee for the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation (Los Angeles, CA); Gwendolyn Lillis P’05, co-founder and chair of the Lillis Foundation (Castle Rock, CO); and the following new trustees:  

  • Heidi Brock ’85, president and chief executive officer, The American Forest & Paper Association (Washington, DC)
  • Ryan McAninch ’06, vice president, Becker Capital Management (Seattle, WA)
  • Christopher Pohlad ’07, vice president, asset management, United Properties (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Jamilia Sherls-Jones ’05, director, health equity, MultiCare Health System (Tacoma, WA)

Business Meeting. In advance of the meeting we read reports submitted by President Crawford and ex-officio representatives, including Faculty Senate Chair Sara Freeman ’95 and ASUPS President Mushawn Knowles ’20, who were in attendance at the business meeting; and Alumni Association President Andrea Tull Davis ’02, who joined us for earlier meetings. The trustees value hearing directly from students, faculty, staff, and alumni about their work, and also appreciate the opportunity to meet informally with members of the campus community throughout our visit.

Highlights of the business meeting include:

  • New degree program. The trustees approved a new bachelor’s degree program in liberal studies that will be offered to incarcerated women at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, in partnership with Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS). FEPPS is one of Puget Sound’s signature programs, and is a nationally recognized model for reducing recidivism and expanding opportunities through higher education. Over the past six years, 35 faculty members have taught or lectured in the program, and nearly 100 students have volunteered as co-learners and facilitators in the study halls at the prison as part of an experiential learning course.
  • Vice president for diversity and inclusion. The Committee on Trusteeship recommended and the full board approved the elevation of the chief diversity officer position to a vice president for diversity and inclusion who will report directly to the president and serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet. We believe this will better signal and support our institutional focus on diversity and inclusion. A national search is expected to begin later this fall.
  • Puget Sound Fund. The trustees affirmed goals for participation in and contributions to the university’s annual fund for the current fiscal year, including goals for trustee giving and renewal of our ongoing commitment to 100 percent participation.
  • Staff representation. President Crawford shared with the Committee on Trusteeship that staff members have expressed a desire to have more of a voice with the board, and to that end the Committee charged him with bringing to the board in February a proposal for staff to have representation and access to the board comparable to that of faculty, students, and alumni.
  • Tenure. While faculty tenure and promotion files generally come before the board in February and May of each year, we were happy to consider and enthusiastically support the awarding of tenure to our new provost, Laura Behling, who joined Puget Sound in July of this year. Dr. Behling holds an M.A. in English and Ph.D. in English and American literature from The Claremont Graduate University (California), an M.S. in journalism from Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Kalamazoo College (Michigan), and also served as a Fulbright Scholar at Palacký University Olomouc in the Czech Republic.

Finally, we attended to other duties of the board, including reports from the following board committees: academic and student affairs, ad hoc bond committee, development and alumni relations, finance and facilities, and trusteeship. We also engaged in a workshop to assess the board’s organization and approach to governance, and convened a third meeting of the President’s Advisory Committee on Campaign Planning as part of our commitment to fully realize the objectives of Puget Sound’s strategic plan. More information about the work of the board is available at pugetsound.edu/trustees.

Please remember that our business meetings are open to all members of the Puget Sound community. We were happy to have with us several students, representatives of the faculty working in the FEPPS program, members of the Staff Senate, and other interested parties. 

Community Engagement. During my time at Puget Sound as a parent of a student in the class of 2007, a trustee, and now chair of the board of trustees, I continue to be struck by the passion and engagement of this community in preparing our students for success. Our students benefit from the university’s practice of soliciting recommendations from the faculty, ASUPS, staff, and alumni leadership to appoint individuals to advise board policy committees, strategic planning work groups, budget task forces, executive search committees, and more. I would especially like to recognize the following for their engagement with the board of trustees this year, along with the dozens of staff members who support our work and serve as essential resources in preparing and executing our meetings.

  • Academic and Student Affairs Committee: Professor Tatiana Kaminsky, Katie Handick ’20
  • Development and Alumni Relations Committee: Professor Suzanne Holland, Jade Herbert ’21
  • Finance and Facilities Committee: Professor Nila Wiese, Mara Henderson ’20
  • Executive Committee (ex-officio) ASUPS President Mushawn Knowles ’20, Faculty Senate Chair Sara Freeman ’95 , and Alumni Association President Andrea Tull Davis ‘02

On behalf of my fellow trustees, we look forward to returning to campus in February, concurrent with the meetings of the Alumni Council Executive Committee.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Pohlad P’07
Chair, Puget Sound Board of Trustees

 

February 2020

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The board of trustees met on campus last week for a very full series of meetings, spending time with university leadership, students, faculty, staff and alumni. Thank you to everyone who participated and made our time on campus so welcoming. We especially enjoyed attending presentations of scholarly work by students and faculty, and a performance of excerpts from the School of Music Opera Theater’s spring production.

An overview of key decisions and activities:

Financial stress testing. Mindful of challenges affecting higher education nationwide, a key focus of our February meetings was a workshop on financial stress testing. We examined markers of financial health for colleges and universities; reviewed Puget Sound’s core financial ratios, credit ratings and strong position relative to other private colleges; and discussed the importance of continually strengthening the long-term financial health of Puget Sound. Maintaining our financial strength is critical to our ability to deliver on our mission and achieve strategic goals.

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Sherry Mondou took us through an overview of key stress events and mitigations in place to address them. Hypothetical examples included a decline in enrollment, increases in the tuition discount rate, loss of endowment value, decline in annual giving, and cybersecurity attack. President Crawford followed with a review of the financial opportunities associated with successful implementation of strategic plan initiatives, including improving student success and retention to graduation, expanding graduate enrollment, seeking other new sources of revenue, and conducting a successful fundraising campaign.

FY21 budget approval. One of the most difficult decisions we made concerned approval of next year’s operating budget. As discussed on campus throughout the fall, university expenses must be reduced by 5% to align with reduced enrollment and revenue levels. We appreciate the thoughtful work of the Budget Task Force in making its recommendation to President Crawford, and had a full and lengthy discussion about the budget proposal in the Finance and Facilities Committee.

The FY21 budget proposal prioritizes and supports student success, increasing funding for financial aid, minimizing tuition increases, providing salary pool increases for faculty and staff, and preserving the ability of the endowment to continue to grow and provide a non-tuition revenue source of support. It also targets various areas for reductions, and we heard and discussed a range of responses to the proposed reduction in the FY21 retirement benefit, from 12 percent to 10 percent, for exempt faculty and staff members.

Compensation of our faculty and staff is critically important, and makes up about 75% of Puget Sound’s operating budget. It makes it very difficult to find reductions outside of the compensation budget—and strengthens our resolve to get revenue-generating strategic initiatives up and running as quickly as possible.

The committee was briefed on how benefits fit into total compensation and upcoming plans to conduct a holistic total compensation review for faculty and staff, which we fully support. With understanding of and sympathy for the concerns of faculty and staff members and acting on what we believe is in the best interests of the university as a whole, the full board approved adoption of the FY21 budget as proposed.

We understand that a campus forum will be held on March 6, and encourage those who have questions about the budget, the endowment, and Puget Sound’s long-term financial projections to attend.

Tenure and Promotion. In closed session, we were very pleased to support promotion and/or tenure of the following outstanding faculty members:

  • Tenure: Rachel Pepper (physics)
  • Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor: Lea Fortmann (economics) and Megan Gessel (chemistry)
  • Promotion to Associate Professor: Andrew Gomez (history), Courtney Thatcher (mathematics and computer science), and Carrie Woods (biology)
  • Promotion to Professor: Tim Beyer (psychology), Kena Fox-Dobbs (geology), Jeff Grinstead (chemistry), Brendan Lanctot (Hispanic studies), Julia Looper (physical therapy), Dawn Padula (music), and Jennifer Utrata (sociology and anthropology)

Staff Representation. We approved a change in our bylaws to provide staff with the opportunity to have representation on board policy committees in a manner comparable to the roles served by faculty and students. New appointments for students, faculty, and staff will go into effect in October 2020 (our first meeting of the academic year).

Welcome Center. Trustees joined major donors, faculty, staff, students and alumni in dedicating the new Welcome Center, which is scheduled to open next month and will play an important role in our campus visit program for prospective students and their families.

Business Meeting. In addition to approval of the FY21 budget, trustees approved a proposal to amend the Faculty Bylaws regarding the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, as recommended by the Academic and Student Affairs Committee; and approved funding to execute the upcoming campaign to support the Leadership for a Changing World strategic plan, as recommended by the Finance and Facilities Committee. It was good to have several students, faculty, and staff members in attendance at the business meeting, and we appreciate the opportunity to share the work of the board with you.

Events with Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni. Trustees enjoyed the opportunity to engage with student leadership and graduating seniors at the third annual ASUPS-sponsored wine tasting event on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, we gathered for our annual dinner with members of the Alumni Council Executive Committee to thank them for their service to our alumni and the university. We were also pleased to welcome members of the Staff Senate leadership to a breakfast with trustees and faculty members on Friday morning, and to have several students, faculty, and staff members in attendance at our Friday business meeting.

Leadership Transitions. We thanked Mushawn Knowles ’20 for their service as ASUPS president, and look forward to meeting new ASUPS leadership in the spring.

We mourned the loss of trustee Susie Wilson ’87, who passed away in December. Susie was devoted to Puget Sound, serving as a member of the Los Angeles alumni chapter and on the National Alumni Board prior to her election to the board of trustees in 2016. A resolution was read in her honor. We also marked the passing of trustee emeritus Bill McCormick P’97, who joined the board in 1978 and completed his final term in 2011. Bill followed both his father and grandfather in service on the board, and with his wife Flora, endowed chairs in both the natural sciences and biophysics.

For more information on the work of the board, including the work of committees and their membership, please visit pugetsound.edu/trustees. We hope to see many of you during our May meetings, and look forward to celebrating the commencement of the Class of 2020.

Sincerely, Robert C. Pohlad P’07 Chair, Puget Sound Board of Trustees
 

 

May 2020

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

First—congratulations to our 2020 graduates! The board of trustees held its annual meeting remotely on May 14 and 15 and enjoyed seeing the virtual Commencement celebration over the weekend, but we are very disappointed to not be able to congratulate you in person. Please know that we are happy to welcome you as Logger alumni, and look forward to seeing you at what I am sure will be a very memorable Commencement ceremony next May.

Above all, we hope that all members of the campus community and your families are safe and healthy. The trustees recognize the tremendous amount of work that has taken place on campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and want every student, faculty, and staff member to know how much you are appreciated. I could not have more confidence in this university. The board stands with you, and we will get through this together.

Below please find some highlights from the board’s meetings last week, as we work to advance the goals of Puget Sound’s strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World and help the university navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual Meeting Workshop. Director of Counseling, Health and Wellness Services Kelly Brown, Ph.D., joined us to provide an overview of public health in Pierce County and Washington state, along with forecasts and considerations for the upcoming academic year. Cabinet members also provided information to inform a discussion of the ways in which the pandemic could affect Puget Sound’s enrollment, operations and budget next year and beyond. We look forward to receiving President Crawford’s recommendations following completion of the work of the Budget Adjustment Group and Operational Planning Group in the coming weeks.

Approval of New Programs. We are very pleased to approve the Occupational Therapy Doctoral program and a Master of Public Health program. These will be strong additions to Puget Sound’s academic offerings and are responsive to the interests of students and the needs of the broader community. Thank you to the faculty for bringing these programs forward.

Faculty Tenure and Promotion. We were pleased to endorse the awarding of tenure and promotion to associate professor Laura Krughoff in English and Chris Kendall in Politics and Government; and promotion to professor for Sara Freeman in Theatre Arts and John Wesley in English.

Reports from Campus Leaders. We received our first reports from new ASUPS President Nicole Gherima Cariño ’21 and from Staff Senate Chair Ben Tucker, and also heard from Faculty Senate Chair Sara Freeman ’95, Alumni Council President Andrea Tull Davis ’02 and President Crawford. This was Sara’s last meeting with us as Faculty Senate Chair and Andrea’s last as Alumni Council President; we thanked them for their exemplary service and look forward to their continued contributions to our faculty and alumni body.

Committee Reports. We also heard reports from standing committees of the board, including Audit, Academic and Student Affairs, Development and Alumni Relations, Finance and Facilities, and Trusteeship.

Elections. Incoming Vice President for Enrollment Matthew Boyce was elected as a non-trustee officer, and President Crawford shared with trustees his gratitude to Interim Vice President for Enrollment Shannon Carr for her exemplary leadership and dedicated service over the past year. The Board additionally elected trustee and non-trustee officers for the upcoming year.

We also recognized and thanked departing trustees for their service, and elected incoming trustees who will assume their roles on July 1.

Re-elected to the Class of 2023:

  • William M. Canfield ’76, P’08 (third term)
  • Frederick W. Grimm ’78 (third term)
  • Laura C. Inveen ’76 (third term)
  • Erin E. Shagren ’88 (third term)
  • Kenneth W. Willman ’82, P’15, P’18 (second term)
  • Newly elected to the Class of 2023:
  • Trustee Emerita Mitzi W. Carletti ’78
  • Justin T. Graham ’90
  • Scott H. Higashi ’91
  • Sarah L. (Watson) Lee ’94

Finally, we recognized with citations the following board members who were elected trustees emeriti in recognition of their leadership, mentorship, wisdom and generosity over many years of service to Puget Sound:

  • Bruce W. Hart P’09
  • Lyle Quasim ’70, H’05

We look forward to returning to campus for our next meeting in October, and will continue our work to support the university between now and then. It was good to have so many people in virtual attendance at our business meeting, and we invite anyone who is interested to learn more about the work of the board at pugetsound.edu/trustees.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Pohlad P’07
Chair, Puget Sound Board of Trustees