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Memorandum May 31, 2023

AU Community
Gina Adams, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees May 2023 Meeting Summary

The meeting of the American University Board of Trustees on May 18–19, 2023, was a celebration of the AU community and an opportunity to advance important work for AU’s future. In the midst of commencement season, we reflected on a successful academic year and a fulfillment of our mission with the graduation of more than 3,300 students. Our commencement speakers—an unparalleled collection of leaders and changemakers that included Alice Albright, Adena Friedman, Larry Hogan, Julie Kent, Ted Leonsis, and Ketanji Brown Jackson—illuminated the impact of American University and the people of our great community.

Accepting the gavel from outgoing chair Marc Duber and chairing my first meeting of the trustees was an honor, and I look forward to our work together over the next two years. Our values, traditions, and mission make AU a beacon of knowledge and excellence. Together, we can shape the future of education and make a lasting impact on the lives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community. Through collaboration, diverse perspectives, open dialogue, mutual respect, shared governance, and a commitment to mission, we can advance our strategic goals. On behalf of our new vice chair Charlie Lydecker and myself, I would like to express our gratitude to the trustees and the AU community for granting us the privilege to serve.

One of the most valuable parts of our gatherings is engagement with the AU community. On Thursday evening, we joined the largest gathering on record for the AU Alumni Awards celebration. Six incredible leaders, including a head of state, an economist, an international education leader, a political advocate, an entrepreneur, and a business and community leader, reflect the breadth and profound impact of the AU community. On Friday morning, we gathered with 40 AU staff members to discuss working at the university and the critical role they have in advancing the shared mission of supporting our students. It was an engaging dialogue about how we can continue making AU a great place to work, providing professional development and growth opportunities, and building the thriving community that is important to us all.

During our business meeting, President Sylvia Burwell reported on the important progress made throughout this academic year. We have achieved significant milestones in faculty scholarship and research, continued our focus on investing in our people, and supported numerous educational and professional opportunities for our students. This work reflects AU’s momentum across our priorities. As we further important efforts to address challenges ahead in higher education and continue our upward trajectory, AU is well-prepared to thrive.

Vice President Courtney Surls led a discussion on the future of the Change Can’t Wait fundraising campaign. With more than $400 million raised towards our $500 million goal, we have made great progress and now are focused on a strong conclusion that will help us meet this target. The campaign has supported key university priorities including financial aid, experiential learning, the Changemakers strategic plan, equity and inclusive excellence, and research. Building the infrastructure for the post-campaign period is vital to the continued success of the initiatives created under Change Can’t Wait and it is key to ensuring that the impact is felt by future Eagles.

We also welcomed our newest trustee Sally Amoruso and new campus representatives Samantha Noland (Graduate Leadership Council president), David Quintero (Student Bar Association president), and Edwin Santos (AU Student Government president). We thanked departing trustees Maril MacDonald and Garret Martin for their service on the Board and their support for the AU community.

We adjourned our time together honoring outgoing chair Marc Duber for his remarkable leadership of the board for the last four years. Chairing the board during the tumult of the pandemic and helping AU navigate the ever-changing higher education landscape, Marc is a dedicated and forward-looking leader. Marc’s continued service and support for his alma mater is an ongoing inspiration.

On behalf of the trustees, our best wishes to all for an enjoyable summer. The Board of Trustees will next meet on September 7–8, 2023.