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MEMORANDUM
June 8, 2006

                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
TO: Campus Community 
FROM: Neil Kerwin, Interim President
SUBJECT: End-of-Semester/Summer  Update
                 
                 
             
             

Board of Trustees and Governance

             

On May 19, the Board of  Trustees voted unanimously to accept the recommendations from its special Governance  Committee on a program of reforms to address inclusiveness, accountability, and  transparency. The reforms outline ways to improve board governance, strengthen  oversight, and clarify individual trustee responsibilities.  The recommendations are posted on the  Governance Web site, along with documents of support from the deans and faculty  senate leaders.  The reforms resulted  from more than six months of study, review, and discussion with campus  constituencies (faculty, students, academic leadership, staff, alumni), and  consultation with nationally known outside experts from non-profit and higher  education.  The committee conducted a  comprehensive review of pertinent literature, comparative data on university  governance, policies, bylaws, practices, committee structures, campus  involvement, trustee qualifications, trustee selection process, and other  aspects of responsible governance. A key recommendation is the addition of  three new (non-voting) trustees – two faculty members, and a current student  member.  Only 15% of independent colleges  and universities have faculty and student trustees, which the board endorsed as  appropriate for American  University.  In addition, the board will include one "non-affiliated"  representative who will be a recent graduate of American University,  chosen after consultation with student government and alumni  representatives.  The board will meet  June 9 to formally enact the bylaw recommendations.

             

The entire AU community  deserves credit for its attentiveness, participation, constructive comment, and  patience, as the board conducted its thorough review of needed reforms.  I am confident that institutions around the  nation will look to the positive example that AU set in this process. It  demonstrates the value of participation and civility in any serious discussion  of governance.

             

New Trustees

             

Also at the May meeting,  the board elected seven new trustees, two of whom are former college presidents  (Stephanie M. Bennett-Smith and Arthur J. Rothkopf); one a former AU student  government president (Neal A. Sharma); four are AU alumni (David R. Drobis,  Gisela Huberman, C. Nicholas Keating, Jr., and Neal Sharma); and one an  honorary degree recipient (Mark L. Schneider).   Biosketches for the new trustees are posted on the governance site. These  trustees resulted from an inclusive campus-wide process that produced some 85  nominations; they reflect a new diversity of professional experience and  breadth of knowledge. We look forward to their robust participation in board  proceedings and in getting to know the AU community by appearing on campus at  activities and events.

             

Senate Finance Committee

             

On May 31, Board of  Trustees Chairman Gary Abramson and Vice Chairman Thomas Gottschalk sent a  letter of response to Chairman Charles Grassley of the U.S. Senate Committee on  Finance.  The letter is posted on the governance Web site.  The letter provides information and  attachments to convey the breadth of governance reforms, bylaws changes and  policy modifications approved by the AU board.

                           

Commencement 2006

             

More than 1,900 students  participated in AU's 120th commencement on Sunday, May 14 in three  ceremonies for the five schools on main campus, and another 375 students took part the following weekend for the law  school's ceremony.  Honorary degree  recipients and commencement speakers included Donald Graham, chief executive  officer of the Washington Post Company; Michael Kahn, artistic director of the  Shakespeare Theatre Company; Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Board chair;  and the Honorable Vanessa Ruiz, associate judge, D.C. Court of Appeals.  I was pleased to present the 2006 President's  Award to Kenia Rodriguez, a graduating senior in the Kogod School of Business.  The President's Award is given annually to  the graduating undergraduate whose accomplishments are truly exceptional and  reflect the highest ideals of American  University.

                           

Fall Enrollment

             

As of May 1, we had  received 1,471 deposits for the 2006 fall freshman class, making it the largest  number of deposits ever received (since we have been tracking them).  Based on this, we will exceed our deposit  goal for the class of 2010.  The academic  quality of this deposited class exceeds last year's record levels, with the  average SAT of 1270 (1267 in 2005), and an average GPA of 3.53 (3.51 in  2005).  There are 182 Honors students who  have paid their deposits (average SAT of 1425 and GPA of 3.89), an increase in  number and quality over the class entering in 2005.  To date, multi-cultural students comprise 13%  of the incoming freshman class, and we received 66 deposits from international  students (up from 51 for fall 2005).  We  set new records for the number of campus visitors – with 3,890 in April 2006  compared with 2,390 campus visitors in April 2005.  Transfer applications are up 4% over last  year. Master's level applications are down by almost 3% compared with last  year, with deposits down 10%.  Doctoral  enrollments are holding steady.  Contrary to national patterns, applications are up substantially at the Washington  College of Law; deposits have increased by 21.5% for the JD program and 17.8%  for the LLM program.  The caliber and  diversity of students admitted to the law school is noteworthy; the school has received  deposits from 599 students (511 full time and 88 part time), 35% of whom are  minorities.  The median LSAT for the full  time students is 162. 

                           

Financial Management

             

I am pleased  to report that we will complete Fiscal  Year 2006 and the year-end closing process with our budget in balance and  perhaps, with a modest surplus.  Although  we had a shortfall in main campus tuition revenue related to budget and faced other financial challenges, we offset revenue shortfalls with the enrollment  contingency fund and departmental savings in various units.  I thank every unit for their assistance this  year in realizing savings and helping to close the fiscal year on a positive  note.

             

At the May board meeting,  our internal auditors, Protiviti, reported to the Finance and Investment  Committee on their year-long review of internal controls in accordance with the  guidelines set forth under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Protiviti gave AU high marks for the control  structure in place, while providing recommendations for improvement.  It was particularly gratifying to hear from  Protiviti, that they were not aware of any other university that had gone  through such a comprehensive Sarbanes-Oxley type review.  We will build on this successful report and  make it a priority going forward.

                           

Technology

             

The migration to Release 18  of Datatel (scheduled for completion by August 2007) is underway.  A detailed draft migration plan is in place  and staff members have been trained in the Envision development language  required for R-18.  We received the R-18 software from Datatel in mid-February and installed it on a test machine for  verification and validation. Testing is still in progress. The conversion is on  schedule, but much work lies ahead. 

             

Meanwhile, a project team  of faculty and staff compiled the first draft of a comprehensive document on  information technology security policies.   This is part of an effort to respond to increased concern about the  security of institutional resources and to ensure compliance with applicable regulations  and industry best practices.

                           

Facilities

             

We currently have before  the city government, an application for a $100 million bond issue, an important  initiative for the university that will enable us to proceed with essential  facilities needs. We will work on this over the summer with a scheduled  closing/sale date in mid-August.  These  funds will be used for the Nebraska Hall renovation (to convert to a  contemporary residence hall for completion in summer 2007); for the SIS  construction; and for refinancing our Series 1996 bonds at more favorable  terms.  Also this summer, Watkins will be  renovated, providing eight classrooms outfitted with contemporary technology and  furnishings, and other renovations will be done to the roof, windows, and the electrical  and mechanical systems. The Mary Graydon north addition, originally scheduled  to start this summer, will be delayed, because we did not receive a construction  bid consistent with the project budget.  A team from Campus Life and Facilities will  convene to work on alternatives for achieving project goals within our budget  constraints. 

                           

Development

             

The fiscal year (2006)  concluded with the Campaign for AnewAU  having passed $120 million.  From a cash  perspective, FY 2006 was the most successful in AU's history, with at least  $20.5 million in cash raised from gifts, pledge payments, and matching  gifts.  (The previous record was $17.9  million in FY 2004).  Despite this  success, we will have considerable work to do to maintain the momentum of the  development staff and the campaign objectives.   Dollar-wise, alumni giving was up (passing the $10 million mark for the  first time), although participation fell from 20% to 18% this past year. All of  us at American University will need to renew our  commitment to the success of AnewAU  in the year ahead, to ensure our campaign is successful.  The campaign will continue to be an important  priority for all of us.  

                           

Sponsored Programs and Related Activity

             

We had an extraordinary  year for sponsored research.  By the close  of FY 2006, faculty were awarded $18,627,190 in external funds for research and  related activities. This represents a 40% increase over last year and over $4.5  million more than our previous high level of $14,045,460 in FY 2004.  Our success reflects not only the hard work  of the faculty who pursue this kind of funding from government entities,  foundations, and other sources, but also the high regard in which they are held  by these organizations. The success is also attributable to the highly professional  staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs, most ably led by Liz Kirby.

                           

Army Corps Operation

             

The news regarding the  Army Corps of Engineers operation, unfortunately, is not what we had hoped, as  the Army Corps has informed us their work is not complete in the Lot 18 area.  In  particular, they have more work to do in the area behind Kreeger (now vacant) and  the adjacent roadway, and in some areas around the Public Safety  Building.  A work plan is being developed for the area  close to Kreeger, where some anomalies will be investigated and removed, with  work probably to occur in July. The work projected for summer around Public  Safety will include soil borings, an assessment of the building foundation, and  the removal of buried glassware and debris. Safety and health protocols will be  meticulously followed, and we will keep the campus informed of any new  developments and a more definitive timeline, when available. 

             

Summer Student Activities

             

We begin preparing for  fall semester in the next few weeks, when new student orientations will be held  on June 19-20; June 22-23; June 26-27; July 6-7; and July 10-11.  More than 1,100 new students and their  families are expected to attend the five sessions. Looking towards autumn, the  residence halls open for move-in on August 18. This year's Freshman Service  Experience is August 21-24; Discover  DC is August 22-24; and Opening  Convocation on August 25.  The first day  of classes is August 28. 

                           

International Affairs

             

The Center for Democracy  and Election Management is launching its first Summer Institute on Democracy  and Elections for 33 election officials, civil society leaders, and journalists  from around the world, held June 5-15.   This unique executive education course brings together leaders from all  dimensions of election administration.   And from June 19-30, the Center for North American Studies will host its  fifth summer institute for students from Mexico,  the United States, and Canada. The  institute is focusing on North American business, which works in the largest  free trade zone in the world.   Twenty-eight students will participate, most from the Business School  (EGADE) of Tec de Monterrey, one of the finest in the hemisphere. 

             

************

             

In closing, I thank the  entire American University community for its  extraordinary commitment over this past academic year as we took part in an  historic examination of board and campus relations. The outcome already has made  AU a stronger institution.

             

I look forward to the planning  and goal setting processes that mark this time of year and preparations for the  fall semester to begin in late August.   Enjoy the summer.

             

Updated:                     
September 5, 2006 12:14 PM