On May 14 and 15, the American University Board of Trustees held its spring meeting, and I want to report on a number of items.
Having served two terms as board chair, Jeff Sine rotated off as chair but will remain in service to American University as a dedicated and valuable trustee. I am grateful for his outstanding leadership as our chair and for his guidance as he handed the gavel to me as incoming chair.
I welcome the assistance of new Vice Chair Marc Duber, a loyal alumnus and strong university supporter whose applied expertise in finance and real estate over the past eight years has benefited AU tremendously as the campus has developed in extraordinary ways.
We said good bye to four trustees, including Regina Muehlhauser, Mark Schneider, David Drobis, and student trustee Joe Ste. Marie. Thanks to all for your distinguished service.
Student trustee-elect Evie Unsworth became the student trustee, effective immediately. The process to select the next student trustee-elect is currently underway, with a candidate to be named before the early fall meeting.
Following endorsement by the Trusteeship Committee (and having received the requisite 30 days prior notice), the board voted to synchronize and clarify its bylaws language (Article III, Section One), to state that “Corporation business shall be transacted by a Board of Trustees of not less than twenty-five (25) nor more than fifty (50) persons, and of whom, eleven (11) members having the power to vote shall constitute a quorum.” The bylaws and policies are posted on the board website.
Following the approval by the Executive Committee at its April 2 meeting, the full board also endorsed the name change for the School of Education (returning to its old name), formerly known as the School of Education, Teaching and Health. The health component will become the Department of Health Studies; both units will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Finance and Investment Committee reported that it had created a Green Fund, utilizing the BlackRock Developed ex Fossil Fuel Index Fund, with an initial investment of $5 million. To help initiate interest in donating to the new fund, I have pledged a challenge grant of $25,000.
The board also approved the modular master’s program, which is hosted by the School of Professional and Extended Studies. The program will allow working professionals to earn advanced degrees while receiving targeted, skills-based training with a focus on fields that feed into the present and future knowledge economy, such as business, communication, and health. Students will pursue two complementary modules and receive an MA in those two areas. Faculty manual changes also were approved.
The committee assignments for the next two years were approved by the board and will be posted on the board website. This also includes the merger of the Communication Committee and the WAMU Subcommittee into one unit to counsel and support these important AU endeavors.
During the meeting, the board thanked Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Tom Minar for his dedication and accomplishments as he leaves AU to become president of Franklin College in June.
The board also applauded the success of the AU women’s basketball team, Head Coach Megan Gebbia, and team leader Jen Dumiak for their achievements in the past year. In addition to the team winning both the Patriot League regular season championship and the league tournament, and Coach Gebbia earning Patriot League Coach of the Year, Jen was named Patriot League Player of the Year; tournament MVP; Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year; and national Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association.
The plenary session conducted as part of the Friday general session, AU Students After Graduation: Preparing Them and Tracking Their Success, was introduced by Sam Ratcliffe, president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, followed by presentations by six key and knowledgeable AU experts on this topic. The board dinner on the preceding Thursday night focused on race relations in the United States and at AU and included a screening of Hands Up! by Caleen Jennings, professor of performing arts.
Next Board Meeting
The next board meeting will be the annual trustees’ retreat, to be held September 17 and 18.