Memorandum November 30, 2016
- American University Community
- Jack Cassell, Chairman, Board of Trustees
- Board of Trustees Late Fall 2016 Meeting Summary
The Board of Trustees held their late fall meeting on Thursday, November 17 and Friday, November 18, on the AU campus. Committee meetings were held on Thursday and the full meeting on Friday.
Also on Thursday, the board heard dinner presentations from two of our newest deans-John Delaney, Kogod School of Business, and Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, School of Education. They updated the trustees and guests on their first months on campus and plans for the future. And on Friday, trustees met with student leaders at the annual fall breakfast reception.
At the full meeting on Friday, the board welcomed new trustees David Trone and Fernando Lewis and approved the nomination of Valentina Fernandez as the new student trustee-elect. Valentina is a sophomore majoring in political science from Kissimmee, FL. She will serve this academic year shadowing current student trustee Shyheim Snead.
The meeting opened with a review of recent activities and university events including the success of the annual All-American Weekend, which saw a four percent attendance increase over last year. During the celebration, the Alumni Association surprised President Kerwin and Ann Kerwin by recognizing their significant contributions to the AU community, and I was pleased to present to President Kerwin the Alumni Achievement Award, which was renamed the Neil Kerwin Alumni Achievement Award, in his honor.
In giving his report, Dr. Kerwin gave an update on the excellent work of the President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion, led by Professor Caleen Jennings. They have met through fall semester to review needed changes, identify areas for attention, and solicit input from the AU community. Dr. Kerwin also discussed the campus climate in the aftermath of the contentious U.S. presidential election and suggested that the coming weeks will present opportunities to explore the election's implications. Some on our campus are deeply concerned and even fearful, but everyone-students, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and friends-has a role in affirming American University's values and ensuring the safety and security of our community members.
The business session included a discussion of the two-year budget process and the guidelines for developing that budget; and the board approved a new degree program in SPExS-a Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management. For the plenary session, the board heard a presentation on the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program, led by Jessica Waters, vice provost, undergraduate education; Larry Thomas, inaugural director/managing director of the program; Keith Leonard, faculty director; and current FDDS students Nathaniel Bulcho, Jessica Rothman, Winter Brooks, and Shyheim Snead-all of whom exemplify what the program strives to achieve.
Open discussion at the board meeting also featured an update on the presidential search, led by search chair Jeff Sine and our Spencer Stuart consultants. The search committee, formed last spring, includes nine trustees, three faculty, two students, one staff member, one senior academic administrator, and the president of the AU Alumni Board. They began meeting in April; convened constituent group conversations through the spring and sought campus feedback; continued candidate profile reviews during summer; began interviewing candidates in September; and are currently interviewing finalists. As this next stage concludes, the committee will make their recommendations to the full board for their deliberation and selection.
Key to the committee's work is their adherence to the principles stated in the position opportunity statement (and posted on the presidential search website)-that AU seeks a candidate with strategic management skills and vision; who will champion AU and continue our work as an inclusive community; who will actively advocate for AU's academic strengths in thought leadership and raise our profile locally, nationally, and internationally; and who will be a compelling spokesperson for American University and lead our efforts in building resources and relationships. All totaled, some 250 candidates were identified; 130 screened for conversations; 56 evaluated by the committee; and a dozen selected for interviews. The pool was diverse by race and gender, and included college presidents, provosts, deans, scholars, government officials, and university administrators.
Following the public portion of the meeting, the board met in executive, then closed executive session. The next board meeting is March 2-3 on the AU campus.