February 2019 Board Report

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The board of trustees met on campus last week for two very busy days of meetings with fellow board members, students, faculty, and staff. We always enjoy seeing new faces during our concluding business meeting, which is open to all members of the campus community.

A key focus of this and future meetings is advancement of the university’s strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World, our vision to make sure that every Puget Sound student is prepared to succeed and graduates ready to create, serve, and lead the future.

In preparation for the meetings, I asked all trustees to read The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. I found this book to be very powerful in raising issues to consider as we work to create the best possible outcomes for our students. How do we protect academic freedom and embrace free speech on campus? How do we foster a sense of shared identity on campus? How are we helping students to become resilient in the face of obstacles and challenges, and how are we responding to student wellness needs?

We held a workshop to engage these questions together with a panel of staff and faculty members, moderated by Provost Kris Bartanen and Vice President for Student Affairs Uchenna Baker. The trustees appreciated the opportunity to learn more about what the university is doing, and where there is room to grow. Thank you to our terrific panelists: Charee Boulter and Libby Baldwin, co-directors, Counseling, Health and Wellness Services; Sarah Shives, assistant dean of students; Seth Weinberger, professor, Politics and Government; Susan Owen, professor, Communication Studies; director, Center for Speech and Effective Advocacy; and Sara Freeman, professor, Theatre Arts; chair, Faculty Senate.

Another highlight of our meeting was the groundbreaking ceremony for Puget Sound’s new Welcome Center. This project has been on the drawing boards for many years, and we are grateful for the strong donor support that is bringing it to fruition. We look forward to the opening of the new facility next spring and the ways in which it will support the enrollment of future Loggers in addition to providing space for meetings and events.

Of course, not all of our time was spent in formal meetings. On Thursday evening we hosted a dinner with members of the Alumni Council Executive Committee, and learned more about the weekend’s Entrepreneurship Summit. As always, we enjoyed the opportunity to meet with students, attend the ASUPS-sponsored senior wine tasting, have breakfast with faculty, and more.

Highlights of other activities and actions include:

  • Budget. The FY20 budget was approved as put forward by the Budget Task Force and recommended by President Crawford.
  • Investment Subcommittee. The Investment Subcommittee continued its review of the Board of Trustees’ Statement on Divestment, and will make a recommendation regarding any updates or changes in May 2019. More information about the university’s current approach to the endowment, including both the General Portfolio and Fossil Fuel-free Portfolio, is available online at About the Endowment.
  • Tenure and Promotion. In closed session, we were pleased to support promotion and/or tenure of the following outstanding faculty members:
    • Tenure: Poppy Fry (history)
    • Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor: Nicholas Brody (communication studies), Erin Colbert-White (psychology), Amy Fisher (science, technology and society), Andrew Monaco (economics), Jessica Smith (theatre arts)
    • Promotion to Associate Professor: Mike Pohl (exercise science)
    • Promotion to Professor: Gwynne Brown (music), Justin Tiehen (philosophy)
  • Leadership Transitions. We were pleased to welcome Vice President and University Counsel Joanna Carey Cleveland to her new role, in which she will serve as in-house legal counsel for Puget Sound and as secretary to the board of trustees. And we celebrated the achievements of our outgoing ASUPS President Collin Noble ’19. It was a pleasure working with him over the past year, and we look forward to meeting new ASUPS leadership in the spring.

We look forward to returning to campus in May, and appreciate the efforts of so many people who do such a great job of preparing for and supporting our board of trustee meetings. 

Sincerely,

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