The Board of Trustees met on Thursday, November 19, and Friday, November 20, on the AU campus for its late fall meeting.
Committee meetings were held on Thursday with actions reported out the next day at the full board meeting. In addition to conducting their quarterly business and reviewing issues of current importance, committees were asked to review their goals for the next two years.
One change in the board’s committee structure is that the oversight of WAMU 88.5 (previously handled by a subcommittee) has now been folded into the responsibilities of the Communication Committee. It will assist the board in its oversight as the license holder for AU’s public radio station.
After the committee meetings concluded, a public forum was held on November 19 in McDowell Formal Lounge to provide an opportunity for the campus community to discuss issues and speak with AU senior officials and trustees. Topics discussed at the forum included diversity, inclusion, and race relations; contract workers’ benefits; health services and psychological support for students; and other topics. Forums are part of AU’s tradition of open dialogue and public discussion; a key part for their success is to conduct them in an atmosphere of mutual respect for all opinions.
The Thursday night trustees dinner featured an inspiring presentation by AU anthropology PhD student Becca Peixotto (also a graduate of the public anthropology master’s program), based on her work on an archeological dig in South Africa. She was one of six female scientists on a team that recently excavated a new species of human relative named Homo naledi. The excavation was heralded across the world and is expected to change the way scientists think about human origins.
At the Friday full board meeting, key actions taken included the approval of a professional science master’s degree program in biostatistics and the approval of the honorary doctor of laws degree for new Smithsonian Institution secretary David Skorton, the fall commencement speaker at the December 16 ceremony. The board also heard an extensive presentation on cybersecurity governance and the extensive efforts that AU is taking to protect our data and our systems; the discussion was led by Vice President and Chief Information Officer David Swartz and Kogod School of Business professor William DeLone, and included key AU technology and security team members from the Office of Information Technology, risk management and safety services, communications, general counsel, and the business school.
It was reported that the undergraduate student recruitment/application cycle for fall 2016 is well underway with initial indications suggesting another strong class of applicants. The first early decision deadline was November 15 with 697 early decision applicants (a 20 percent increase over last year).
The Washington College of Law move-in has begun, and the school will be fully functioning at its new home on the Tenley Campus in January. East Campus construction is on an aggressive schedule with Saturday work hours now incorporated so that we can complete the project for fall 2016 semester operations. Preliminary planning continues on the new home for the sciences, to be funded in part from the proceeds of three off-campus properties currently housing a mix of AU functions and unaffiliated tenants.
During lunch, the board heard from Professor Robert Goldman, chair of the dean’s search committee for the Washington College of Law on the status of that search, as Dean Claudio Grossman steps down next year after 21 years as dean. Professor Goldman reported that the pool of candidates is very strong, and the search timeline suggests the naming of a new dean during spring semester 2016.
After hearing reports from the provost, vice presidents, and campus representatives, the board went into closed executive session briefly and concluded its meeting at 2:45 p.m.
The next Board of Trustees meeting will be February 25-26, 2016 on the AU campus.