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AU Memo Letterhead

Memorandum March 8, 2017

To:
American University Community
From:
Jack C. Cassell, Chair, Board of Trustees
Subject:
Board of Trustees Winter 2017 Meeting Summary

The Board of Trustees held their winter meeting on Thursday, March 2, and Friday, March 3, on the AU campus. Committee meetings were held on Thursday and the full meeting on Friday.

On Thursday, the board heard a dinner presentation by Washington College of Law dean Camille Nelson; she updated trustees and university leadership on her first months at AU and plans for the law school. Also attending the dinner in the Katzen Arts Center's museum was President-designate Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

At the open session on Friday, President Kerwin outlined the objectives for years 9 and 10 of the strategic plan, which resulted from extensive deliberation by senior management and the university community. The President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion assisted in developing the objectives related to their work.

A key part of the meeting was a discussion of the proposed budget for FY 2018 and FY 2019, based on the work of the University Budget Committee, led by Provost Bass and Vice President Kudravetz and upon which President Kerwin made his recommendations. The biennial budget-which totals $1.4 billion-was approved by a unanimous vote. Key underpinnings included the need to continue the momentum of the outlined priorities of the strategic plan as it enters its final two years; making significant progress to advance diversity and inclusion; implementing the RiSE initiative; acting on the recommendations of the Middle States reaccreditation team; responding to regulatory changes; and preparing for AU's next chapter-including the launch of a comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The pricing strategy includes a tuition increase of 4 percent in each of the fiscal years 2018 and 2019 in undergraduate and graduate tuition rates, which is comparable to AU's peer institutions; the law school increase will be 3.5 percent each year; residence hall increases are based on housing style, with the increase for traditional style housing at 1 percent each year; meal plans will increase at 2 percent each year. Taken together, total cost of attendance will increase by 3.3 percent for undergraduate students. Most importantly, all course and lab fees (with the exception of study abroad and private lessons) have been eliminated, allowing students to take required and elective courses of their choice without paying any additional fees.

A 3 percent funding pool will provide performance-based salary increases for faculty and staff in September 2017 and a pool of 2.5 percent for performance-based increases in September 2018. The Office of Finance and Treasurer will publish and post a complete budget report in April. Until then, the Eagle published a solid summary of the budget.

In other board action, a new degree program-Bachelor of Arts in African American and Africa Diaspora Studies-was approved; and resolutions were passed in tribute to the 20 years of service by retiring Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson and in appreciation of the 15 years of trustee service by alumnus Gary Cohn, who stepped down from the board.

After thanking the campus representatives for their dedication and service over the past year, new trustee appointments were made, effective May 2017-faculty trustee Andrea Pearson (replacing Larry Engel) and student trustee Valentina Fernandez (replacing Shyheim Snead). The board leadership was approved-with Marc Duber approved as vice chair and me as chair for another two-year term; Jeff Sine was approved as chair of the Finance and Investment Committee, with Gary Abramson as vice chair; and the trustee class of 2020 was approved. All updates will be posted to the publicly available Board of Trustees site.

Following the public portion of the meeting, the board met in executive, then closed executive session. The next board meeting is May 18-19 on the AU campus.