Summary of the January 2019 Board of Trustees meeting

Dear faculty, staff and students,

Last week was the January meeting of the Board of Trustees. The board covered topics that it reviews on an annual basis, like the comprehensive fee and a risk management update, as well as current issues of special interest.

First, I’m pleased to announce that the trustees endorsed our proposal to eliminate the earnings contribution for any one summer of the student’s choosing, for all students receiving college financial aid. We hope this will help students expand their studies and explore career options. Students can still petition to have their contribution waived for one additional summer under certain circumstances. The new policy will go into effect this June, with details to follow in a separate communication from Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Liz Creighton ’01. The board also encouraged us to investigate additional ways to reduce the burden on families receiving aid. We hope to learn from the free summer initiative in ways that will help us target aid where it can help the most.

Following is a summary of other major discussions and votes from the meeting. Archived meeting reports are always available on the News from the Board section of williams.edu.

  • The board voted to confirm the 2019-2020 comprehensive fee. Look for details when we send the annual tuition letter to students in March.
  • I was pleased to update the trustees on strategic planning by previewing a draft framework for moving forward with the planning process. I expect to circulate the framework to campus at the start of spring term.
  • Provost Dukes Love hosted a session on financial fundamentals, describing our processes for ensuring sound financial management.
  • Associate Vice President for Finance Matt Sheehy, Chief Information Officer Barron Koralesky and General Counsel Jamie Art ’93 led an annual update on the college’s risk management efforts, including recent work on IT risk and data security.
  • The board confirmed the promotion of six Williams faculty members to associate professor with tenure as of July 1, 2019. See the college press release for details. Congratulations to our faculty colleagues on this great news!
  • Trustees heard updates on the college’s endowment from Chief Investment Officer Collette Chilton; on college finances from Treasurer and Vice President for Finance Fred Puddester; and on fundraising and the Teach It Forward campaign from Vice President for College Relations Megan Morey. Megan’s report included the good news that the TIF campaign has exceeded both our 85% engagement goal (a category that includes many types of volunteerism, including mentoring students) and our $650 million fundraising goal. Between now and the campaign close on June 30 we’re excited to continue raising resources to help students thrive in and out of the classroom, recruit and support great faculty and build and revitalize a sustainable campus.
  • Finally, the trustees approved namings of two campus facilities in honor of alumni and their philanthropic support. The bar at The Log will be named the Robinson Bar in honor of trustee and incoming board chair Elizabeth Beshel Robinson ’90. And Hewat House, the new home of Integrative Wellbeing Services, will become the Pond House for Wellbeing in honor of Alicia and Peter ’67 Pond.

The board also hosted a reception for students, small-group dinners with staff, and a Friday dinner with faculty from across divisions. I want to thank everyone who made time to meet with the trustees—a group that also includes students from JAAB, the Neighborhood Leadership Team and College Council, who met with the Student Experience Committee; and the faculty members who joined the Faculty and Instruction committee meeting at the Oakley Center.

As you can tell, the trustees remain committed to helping the college manage our financial and human resources, and to understanding issues that matter to us as a community. I’m grateful for their counsel and support for Williams, and look forward to sharing similar updates after future meetings.

Sincerely,

Maud