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Board of Trustees Winter 2015 Report

February 14, 2015
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Click here for an ASL version of the summary of the winter 2015 meeting of the Board of Trustees. For captions, click “cc” in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Dear Campus Community,

It’s my pleasure to provide the community a summary of the winter 2015 meeting of the Board of Trustees. Before I begin, I’d like to convey my appreciation to all the trustees, students, faculty, staff, and administration for making this a productive and enjoyable winter meeting. It was a pleasure to be on campus again and to see all the enthusiasm and hard work being done by students, faculty, staff, and administration.

Before I begin with my reports, I’d like to provide an update on an initiative that I value greatly and that is the work of the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute. At last October’s board meeting, we learned of the campus’ involvement in a multicultural transformation process for our curriculum. Gallaudet recognizes the importance of diversity and equity on our campus and, at that time, the board decided to collaborate with the efforts by the campus community toward multicultural transformation. To that end, the board contracted with the consultants who worked with the University on its multicultural transformation initiative and at this meeting, the consultants worked with the board for two hours discussing the role the board can play in addressing diversity and equity issues on campus. We expect the issues of diversity and equity to be a top priority for the next University president, and the board will continue its work with our consultants on multicultural transformation at its May and October meetings, as well as at its summer retreat.

Student Affairs Committee. To kick off this year’s board meeting, trustees enjoyed some quality time with students beginning with a lunch in the Ely Center as well as some classroom visits. It’s truly a pleasure to see students in these settings. Lunch was followed by a meeting of the Student Affairs Committee which received presentations from SBG President Andrew Morrill and GSA President Phyllis Steele both of whom shared many exciting and important initiatives planned for the near future. We also learned of recent efforts to increase collaboration between students and faculty as well as between the Office of Student Affairs and faculty.

The Student Affairs Committee received a presentation from a panel about how Gallaudet has been addressing the issue of sexual misconduct and sexual discrimination on campus and to remain compliant with Title IX and Clery Act regulations. This is an issue impacting universities across the nation and one that we at Gallaudet are addressing vigorously. We recognize that this is not an easy task and we commend the efforts of all involved in ensuring that the Gallaudet campus is a safe and productive environment in which to live and learn.

Academic Affairs Committee. The board was thrilled to see several many new initiatives from Academic Affairs in terms of its program development. First, the establishment of the Maguire Academy for Risk Management and Insurance, as well as a new undergraduate program in public health that will be launched this fall. A new Academic Programs Review effort has begun to ensure our academic quality and standards remain high. The board received an update on ASL Connect (formerly known as ASL Central), the University’s new online ASL learning portal that will provide distance learning in ASL and promote enrollment. In addition, we recognized the outstanding work of Laura-Ann Petitto for securing a $900,000 grant from the Keck Foundation to develop innovative learning tools for children. We learned of two new centers being established: the Center for Deaf Documentary Studies, to be led by Dr. Brian Greenwald, which will help preserve and promote the deaf experience; and the Burstein Center for Excellence in Leadership and Innovation to help train and develop future leaders in the deaf community. The board also wants to recognize the faculty for its efforts at building partnerships and opportunities for collaboration with students and with the Office of Student Affairs. 

Academic Affairs Subcommittee on Research. Drs. Regina Nuzzo and Matthew Bakke presented to the committee five new areas of research priorities. The designation of research priorities is required by the Education of the Deaf Act and is limited to five main areas as per Goal E of the Gallaudet Strategic Plan. Those five areas of prioritization as currently proposed are: learning and achieving throughout the lifespan; culture and demographics; technology; quality of life and subjective experience; and cognition and neuroscience. The board is thrilled to see progress in this area and the campus community will have opportunities to provide feedback on these priorities. The board and the administration also reiterated its support for and encouragement of research continuing outside of these research priorities as well.

Academic Affairs Subcommittee on the Faculty Handbook and the Administration and Operations (A&O) Manual. The charge of this subcommittee is to resolve inconsistencies, overlap, conflicts and omissions among policies contained within these two documents. The subcommittee agreed to invite a consultant with expertise in this area to help guide what became called the “harmonization” of these two documents. It should be noted that the faculty handbook will remain in control of the faculty. We expect the process of review and synchronization to be completed in the fall.

Academic Affairs Subcommittee on Faculty, Administration, and Board (FAB). The FAB held a dialogue session that involved breaking into smaller groups with representatives from the board, administration and faculty in each group to discuss ways to improve our efforts toward shared governance and to discuss the evaluation process of faculty. I’d particularly like to thank Trustee Dr. Richard Ladner and Dr. Lillie Ransom for their leadership on the FAB. On a final note, Dr. Khadijat Rashid, chair of the Faculty Senate, was named as a third ex-officio member of the FAB. 

Budget and Operations Committee. A motion from the committee to add a policy to the A&O manual related to interim and temporary staff appointments that will help better define those types of appointments was approved by the board. The board also approved the establishment of a quasi-endowment fund in order to invest a recent bequest of $4.1 million to be put toward research. An update and a comparison of the FY2014 and FY2015 budgets was presented, and the committee shared the expectation that our federal appropriation for FY2016 to remain flat with this fiscal year’s appropriation of $120.5 million. The board agreed to modify language in an agreement between Gallaudet University and Gallaudet University Foundation to support and facilitate the Foundation’s work for a master development agreement with JBG Company for the 6th Street redevelopment project. The Gallaudet Staff Council (GSC) has a representative that serves in an ex-officio capacity on the committee and as such the committee invited the GSC Chair Dr. Kojo Amissah to present to the committee about its recent activities.

Investment Committee. We are pleased to announce that as of December 31, 2014, the market value of University’s endowment is approximately $193.5 million. We look forward to the continued growth of the endowment for the benefit of Gallaudet. The board approved a motion from the committee to transfer approximately $10-15 million from its cash account to a short term bond fund to realize a greater return on its cash-on-hand. 

Audit Committee. A review was completed with the help of our external auditors of our FY2014 financial statements and IRS Form 990. No discrepancies were noted.

Enrollment Ad Hoc Committee. The committee received a report on the continuing improvementments to the structure of the enrollment office and the continuing implementation of recommendations from the Noel Levitz audit completed last year. We were pleased to see the hire of new a Director of Financial Aid. The development of a new brand and website is in the works and we look forward to seeing the result of those efforts soon. We also received an update on student retention segmented by class year. We look forward to the positive impact on enrollment resulting from these efforts.

National Deaf Education Committee. The Clerc Center is continuing to work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education on its activities related to compliance with the Education of the Deaf Act, and the committee also received an update on the Clerc Center Strategic Plan 2020. The committee was thrilled to see designs of the new dorm for MSSD; students as well as teachers were involved in the design process and it’s thrilling to see the outcome. The designs are so beautiful it makes me wish I was a student once again. Oh well! Students will be able to move into the dorm in the fall of 2016.
Development Committee. The committee reported that with the transition of University Communications under the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, the division will now be known as Institutional Advancement. In the first quarter of FY2014, it has raised $6.2 million. 

Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC). Last, but of course not least, the board received a report from the PSAC. We’re thrilled to announce that the job description for a new president has been posted and the deadline for applications is March 2, 2015. The future of Gallaudet is now in your hands – the hands of the campus community and beyond. This is now your opportunity to think who would make the best possible leader for the future of Gallaudet? Encourage those you think should be consider to apply. Our goal is to have a strong, qualified and diverse pool of candidates from which to consider. Please think about how you can help be a part of this process.
In closing, I’d like to make a few comments about the presidential transition. William Bridges wrote a book about the distinction between change and transition. Change is the event that happens and the transition is the emotional process that happens when change occurs. It is typically defined a three phases: the ending or farewell, the neutral zone of anxiety, and then the excitement of a new beginning. In the first phase, we go through a process of closure, of saying goodbye to the old; the second phase involves a period of uncertainty, of anxiety, as we have let go the old but start to anticipate a new way of doing things; the third phase occurs as we have a feeling of excitement, of anticipation, for the new. We will see this happen during in the presidential transition as well. Now, as we are in the closure phase, we have an opportunity for each of us to analyze how we, as individuals, are contributing to ensure we have positive closure to the tenure of the current president, T. Alan Hurwitz, and how can we celebrate and congratulate his legacy. Then, as we enter the middle phase, we need to manage our feelings of uncertainty and anxiety and recognize these feelings are normal and should be expected and managed. In the third phase, as we enter into a period of excitement, we need to ask ourselves how each of us will contribute to the success of the next president to ensure she or he will have a great start to their tenure. The time is now. The Board of Trustees looks forward to working with you throughout this process.

Finally, it was with great sadness we had to say goodbye to Trustee Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2006, most recently as chair of the Student Affairs Committee. The board passed a resolution in her honor, and to recognize her years of service and dedication to Gallaudet and for her activism in the deaf community and disability communities at large. 

Sincerely,
Heather Harker
Chair

14 February 2015

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