October 2019 Board Report

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.


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