Archive: On The Green
 
Issue: March 5, 2010 - Vol. 38 No. 21

Benjamin Soukup reports on Board of Trustees’ winter meeting

The following memo was emailed to the campus on February 25.

Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to be writing to you about action items on a number of important matters that were taken by the Board of Trustees at our winter meeting on campus this past Saturday [February 20]. I regret that I was unable to attend the meeting and wish to thank my colleague, Frank H. Wu, vice chair, for directing the meeting in my place. This meeting was rescheduled from February 10 to 12 due to the twin blizzards that struck the mid-Atlantic region that week, which made travel conditions hazardous for the trustees, dedicated volunteers who come to Gallaudet from across the nation. I am pleased to say that our meeting was extremely productive. Even though the normal work of two and a half days had to be compressed into a single day, the Board accomplished a tremendous amount of work.

On behalf of the entire Board, we want to recognize and praise Dr. Hurwitz for the outstanding job he is doing as our new president and the notable progress he’s made in the short time he has been here. The transition to his administration has been seamless. He has started aggressively to implement the strategic plan, and he has selected a cabinet of talented individuals who are working closely with him to help fulfill the University’s goals. The Board has been most impressed by everything Dr. Hurwitz has done to date, and his presentations at the meeting were most informative.

The following is a recap of the actions taken by the Board of Trustees at the meeting:

  • Approved a special resolution honoring the Board’s late colleague, Dr. Lawrence Fleischer.
  • Ratified an updated version of Gallaudet’s investment policy statement governing the University’s actions on the goals and objectives of its endowment fund assets. The Board learned that Gallaudet’s endowment is in sound fiscal condition, totaling approximately $156 million as of September 30. 
  • Approved the bylaws of the Gallaudet Staff Council.
  • Approved proposed changes to the Faculty Guidelines on procedural matters between faculty and the Provost that deal with, for example, how files are passed from person to person, and other small changes.

At every Board meeting, the Audit Committee and Compensation Committee also meet to consider confidential matters to ensure Gallaudet meets legal requirements. Over the past several years, the government has increased the responsibilities of governing boards to oversee these aspects of non-profit organizations.

I would also like to announce the Board’s decision on the specific honorary degrees that will be awarded at this year’s Commencement exercises on May 14: Dr. Nancy Grasmick, G-’65, Maryland state school superintendent, who also will be our Commencement speaker, will receive an honorary doctorate of law, and Dr. Robert Sanderson, ‘41, Trustee emeritus, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. On a related matter, a working group of selected members from our community is being formed to advise the Board on the process for making recommendations for honorary degree recipients. This working group will make recommendations to help ensure that the honorary degree selection process is more inclusive of campus constituencies.

In addition, the Board is engaged in discussion with President Hurwitz regarding the financial condition of the University for the current year. Also, Provost Stephen Weiner informed the Board about the progress being made by Academic Affairs’ Program Prioritization Task Force. The Board learned that this summer the task force expects to submit a preliminary report with its assessment of Gallaudet’s undergraduate and graduate academic programs, and in November a final report will follow.

The Board received a report on possible plans for the 6th Street development project. It looks forward to considering such plans within the context of a master plan for the campus and surrounding areas, in order to advance the revitalization of the neighborhood. Board Committees also received reports, including, for example, an important update on alcohol and substance abuse policies. The administration has taken a thoughtful approach to this issue, which affects all colleges and universities, and which offers an opportunity to educate young people about individual responsibility.

I would also like to advise you that Board is exploring how to restructure its committees to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and meaningful engagement with the content of its meetings. At its summer retreat, the Board expects to study the best means of ensuring that it fulfills its responsibilities for governance of the institution, with a decision-making process that follows the best practices in higher education. The Board balances independence, judgment, and support for the administration, and it must consider all of the data and diverse stakeholder views.

In closing, the Board would like to commend the progress that is being made by the Presidential Inaugural Planning Committee for President Hurwitz’s May 12 inauguration ceremony. The committee is being led in its efforts by trustees Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke and Tiffany Williams-Granfors, and we are eagerly anticipating this formal welcome of our tenth president. I would like to extend my thanks, once again, to the trustees for rearranging their schedules for this weekend meeting, and I look forward to returning to Kendall Green for the Board’s spring meeting May 12 to 14.

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