February 2021 Board Report

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The board of trustees recently concluded its winter 2021 meetings.  Even though we are still meeting virtually, we enjoyed interacting with the university’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni.  As a new practice, we opened our business meeting with a statement acknowledging that the university is on the traditional homelands of the Puyallup Tribe. The Puyallup people have lived on and stewarded these lands since the beginning of time, and continue to do so today. We recognize that this land acknowledgement is one small step toward true allyship and we commit to uplifting the voices, experiences, and histories of the Indigenous people of this land and beyond.   

A land acknowledgment statement will be a regular starting point for our future meetings, and I’d like to acknowledge ASUPS President Nicole Cariño for inspiring us to take this step by including a land acknowledgement statement in her reports to the board over the course of the past year.

Trustees especially appreciated opportunities to engage with faculty to learn more about their recent research, scholarship, and creative endeavors; learn more about what it means to be a Logger student-athlete during the pandemic; and join our Alumni Council Executive Committee to learn about recent efforts to connect students with alumni. The board also met in committees and as a group for its business meeting to accomplish the following actions and activities:

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism. Prior to our meetings, trustees and Cabinet members completed three training modules on discrimination and harassment, managing bias, and inclusion in the workplace, along with associated readings.  We all participated in a workshop regarding leadership in higher education and the ongoing work of understanding, supporting, and promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. President Crawford shared his Cabinet’s actions and initiatives to support diversity and antiracism to complement division-specific work taking place across campus. The board looks forward to continuing to engage with this work and think deeply about commitments it can make to support these efforts as well as the work of the incoming Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Comprehensive Academic, Administrative, and Auxiliary Program Review. The board adopted a resolution supporting the President’s recommendation that the university conduct a comprehensive review of its academic, administrative, and auxiliary programs. Conducting this type of evaluation is important to help respond to the challenges currently facing higher education, and will support the university in fulfilling its mission within a sustainable financial model. The university will engage a consulting firm with expertise in this area and will convene a cross-functional steering committee to include faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, and Cabinet members. This steering committee will report its recommendations to the President, who will provide his final recommendations to the board by or before its October 2022 meeting. The board will receive periodic updates on this work. 

Appointment of a Special Advisory Committee on Strategic Enrollment Initiatives. At the October 2020 meeting, the Committee on Trusteeship asked President Crawford to bring forward a proposal for a board committee to support the university’s student success initiatives. Higher education is facing a demographic shift and a changing level of demand for higher education. To support the university in moving forward with its strategic enrollment plan, the Committee on Trusteeship recommended at this month’s meeting that I appoint a Special Advisory Committee on Strategic Enrollment Initiatives. I will be working to identify and appoint at least six trustees to 3-year terms on this committee; we expect this committee will convene within the next month to begin its work.

Budget Recommendation for 2021-22. The board approved President Crawford’s budget recommendation for 2021-22, as shared with the campus community. Although the university has a longstanding history of balanced budgets, a temporary exception to this practice is necessary due to public health and economic circumstances. This budget responds to short-term challenges while advancing the university’s mission and commitment to student success. We thank the collaborative efforts of the members of the Budget Task Force in developing this budget.

Amendments to Faculty Code and Bylaws. The board approved two amendments to the faculty code as recommended by the faculty to modify the language used to describe the evidence required for promotion to the rank of full professor and to address the timing of when the modified language for evaluation and promotion should go into effect. We also approved an amendment to the faculty bylaws to update the charge of the University Enrichment Committee to select the recipient of the Dirk Andrew Phibbs Award and arrange for announcement to the university community and the Phibbs Family.

ASUPS Transition. We thanked Nicole Cariño '21, for her service to the board and the university in her role as ASUPS president, and look forward to meeting the new ASUPS leadership in the spring.

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

  • Tenure: Shen-yi (Sam) Liao (Philosophy)
  • Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor: Sara Protasi (Philosophy)
  • Promotion to Clinical Associate Professor: Holly Roberts (Physical Therapy); Karin Steere (Physical Therapy); Sheryl Zylstra (Occupational Therapy)
  • Promotion to Professor: David Latimer (physics); Brett Rogers (Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies); Bianca Wolf (Communication Studies)

May Meeting Plans.  While we had hoped to be able to convene in person for our annual meeting in May, we will instead be holding that meeting virtually, with the hope of resuming in person on campus in October.  We look forward to “seeing” many of you then.

Thank you for all your continuing efforts and contributions to ensure the university’s success.  We know the past year has been unprecedented and enormously challenging for everyone.  The trustees are grateful and impressed by the ongoing dedication of the university’s faculty, staff, and students to keep themselves and the campus safe, supported, and focused on success.  You embody our motto, “To the Heights!”, in everything you do and it is an honor to serve as your board chair and support the university in this role. 

Sincerely,

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