February 2017 Board Report

Board of Trustees Meeting
February 2017

The board of trustees conducted a productive series of meetings on Feb. 23-24, 2017; below are highlights of our work together on campus over two very full days.

Alumni Council. The meetings were held simultaneously with meetings of members of the Alumni Council Executive Committee, who joined us for dinner on Thursday evening to celebrate the Council’s 10th anniversary. Trustees enjoy this annual gathering with Alumni Council representatives who—like the alumni, parents, and community members serving on the board of trustees—are deeply invested in the university community. (We also enjoyed heading over to Memorial Fieldhouse afterwards to catch the second half of the women’s basketball team as the team won an exciting conference semifinal game against Lewis & Clark!)

Workshops. In addition to our business meeting, it is customary for the trustees to participate in a workshop on an area of strategic importance for Puget Sound. At this meeting we took a detailed look at the academic and curricular experiences of Puget Sound students, and discussed the educational goals that provide the foundation for students’ campus experience and engagement in high-impact learning activities. We appreciate the opportunity to meet with students and faculty members who talked with us about research, internship experiences, civic scholarship, capstone projects, and the ongoing process for curriculum review and development. It’s an impressive array of thoughtful work that exemplifies our goals to produce graduates who think critically, communicate clearly and effectively, and develop and apply knowledge independently and collaboratively. 

The trustees were also pleased to engage with students in committee work and informally during lunch on Friday, as part of a broader effort to develop opportunities for students and trustees to meet with and learn from each other, and in response to students’ requests to have more opportunities to interact with trustees. We enjoyed a breakfast with faculty members, as well, and some of us were also able to sit in on a few classes.

Business Meeting. Increasing interest by students in the work of the board is always good to see, and we welcomed about two dozen students who visited the board’s business meeting. We heard from ASUPS President Noah Lumbantobing ’17 and recognized him for his service in representing students over the past year. We also heard remarks from Faculty Senate Chair Alisa Kessel and Alumni Council President Leslie Skinner Brown ’92. 

Major elements of the business meeting included reports on academic and student affairs, development and alumni relations, and finance and facilities. Highlights of actions taken include approval of President Crawford’s recommended budget for fiscal 2018 (July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018), which was informed by the work of the campus Budget Task Force. The budget is designed to advance the excellence of our academic and cocurricular programs, while being sensitive to access and affordability. The FY18 budget reflects an aggregate 3.18% increase in tuition, room, board and fees (including the lowest tuition increase in 45 years). Puget Sound’s current aggregate tuition and fees are 1.8% lower than the average of our national peers, and our strong commitment to financial aid—a 51% increase over the past eight years—honors our commitment to financial accessibility.

On the fundraising side, gifts to the Puget Sound Fund for the first seven months of the year total $1,630,678, an increase of 4.2% over 2016. Alumni participation in annual giving stands at 3,114, slightly below last year but ahead of 2015. Total new commitments since the conclusion of the One [of a Kind] campaign in 2015 is $9.52 million—just over 50 percent of the trend line target for the 19 months beginning July 1, 2015.

Trustees also heard from the audit committee that the university received clean opinions from Moss Adams regarding the audit of the university’s financial statements and of federal awards supporting financial aid and faculty research. The finance and facilities committee reported that S&P Global Ratings affirmed Puget Sound’s A+ long-term rating. The committee on trusteeship spoke to the diversity of perspective that we seek in the naming of future trustees, and cited ethnic diversity as an area of special focus.

In closed session, the board approved tenure for associate professor John Wesley, English; tenure and promotion to associate professor for David Chiu, mathematics and computer science, and Alan Krause, business and leadership; and promotion to associate professor for Rachel Pepper, biophysics. It is a pleasure to support the work and careers of these outstanding faculty members.

Finally, we are looking forward to President Crawford’s inauguration as Puget Sound’s 14th president on March 24, 2017, when classes will be cancelled so that members of the campus community and guests can participate in a day of faculty presentations, student performances, and the ceremony itself, focusing on “The Liberal Arts: Leadership for a Changing World.”  Please plan to join us for this important and celebratory day in the life of the college.

Additional information about the work of the board, including board membership, faculty and student representatives, organizational structure, and upcoming meetings, is available at pugetsound.edu/trustees.

Sincerely,

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