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Memorandum May 23, 2019

To:
AU Community
From:
Marc N. Duber, Chair, Board of Trustees
Subject:
Board of Trustees Spring 2019 Meeting Summary

The American University Board of Trustees held its spring meeting on May 16-17. As your newly appointed board chair, I am delighted to share highlights of the meeting with members of the AU community.  

The spring meeting marked the end of Jack Cassell’s second term as board chair, but he will continue to provide dedicated service and valued leadership as a member of the AU Board of Trustees. I am honored to step into the role of board chair and look forward to advancing the board’s positive momentum by building on the great work that has already been done. I am pleased to announce that Gina Adams will serve as vice chair. Gina, who received her undergraduate degree from AU, serves as senior vice president for government affairs at FedEx Corporation and has been a trustee since 2007. There were additional changes to the membership noted as the board recognized the departures of trustee Reverend Kim Cape, faculty trustee Andrea Pearson, and student trustee Saira Grewal. Student trustee-elect Madison Dalton has transitioned to student trustee for 2019-20, and the selection of the next student trustee-elect will be completed this fall.

The board devoted significant time to central issues affecting our academic mission. Provost Dan Myers led a comprehensive discussion with trustees about the US News and World Report rankings of institutions of higher education and provided explanation and analysis of the combinations of various factors that have affected AU’s rankings historically. The board passed resolutions related to academic affairs, including the approval of changes to the faculty manual and the WCL faculty manual, and the establishment of two new academic programs. The BA in photography will be offered jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication, and the MS in international relations and business will be offered jointly by the Kogod School of Business and the School of International Service. The board also voted to terminate the MS in professional science: environmental assessment and the MA in bilingual education.

Other board action items included the authorization to create an advisory board for WAMU; the approval of board committee assignments for 2019-21; the appointment of Traevena Byrd, vice president and general counsel, as secretary to the Board of Trustees; and the appointment of Leslie Wong, former director of special projects in the President’s Office, as assistant board secretary. Trustees took a moment during the meeting to express appreciation for Terry Flannery, departing vice president of communication, for her exemplary service to the university.

The board viewed a video celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Center for Israel Studies (CIS), which was created to study the rich history and culture of Israel, and has evolved to develop new knowledge through conferences, discussions, lecture series, performances, and exhibits. I was pleased to announce that trustee Alan Meltzer has recently provided a $2 million gift to establish and support CIS faculty fellows. In addition, trustees enjoyed a message from famous characters offering advice to new AU graduates, presented by honorary degree recipient Pam Kaufman (SOC/BA ’85), president of Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products, at the School of Communication commencement ceremony on May 11.

The meeting concluded with a special presentation by students from the AU dance department to celebrate the graduation of the inaugural cohort of dance degree recipients in the recently established program. Their performance inspired the trustees by reminding us that our individual and collective commitments to American University have a direct and positive impact on students’ lives. As I begin my term as AU’s board chair, I look forward to joining my fellow trustees as we continue to celebrate the achievements of AU students, faculty, staff, and alumni, while engaging in meaningful discussions about our role in effective governance and supporting the advancement of AU’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

The American University Board of Trustees will convene during our fall retreat, which is scheduled for September 12-13. In the meantime, I wish you all a peaceful and productive summer.