Summary of February Board of Trustees Meeting
Dear members of the Marist College community,
This past weekend (February 4-5) the Marist College Board of Trustees held its winter meeting. While Friday’s sessions had to be conducted via Zoom because of the inclement weather, on Saturday the Board convened in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The Board would like to express its gratitude to Faculty Affairs Committee Chair Julie Raines, Student Government Association (SGA) President Tenzin Tsundu ’22, and members of the administration for their participation in the meeting and commitment to shared governance. As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance communication and transparency around institutional decision-making and the work of the Board, we would like to share some of the meeting’s outcomes with you.
We’re pleased to report that the Board voted unanimously to authorize the long-anticipated Dyson Center expansion and enhancement as well as the associated funding plan. Construction on this transformational project, which you can read about in greater detail here, is set to begin at the conclusion of the spring 2022 term, with an anticipated completion in early 2024. The building will partially be funded by a gift from the Dyson Foundation with the remainder to come from a $60 million bond issuance, which the administration will execute in the coming months.
Trustees unanimously approved the promotion of two full-time faculty members, both of whom had the support of their peer-review committees, deans, the Rank and Tenure Committee, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President. Dr. Carolyn Matheus was promoted to Professor of Information Systems and Dr. Carol Rinke was promoted to Professor of Education. We extend our congratulations to Professors Matheus and Rinke, and our thanks to the many faculty members who played a part in the promotion review process, including those who serve on peer-review committees and on the Rank and Tenure Committee.
The Board unanimously approved 11 semester- or year-long sabbatical requests for the 2022-2023 academic year. Acknowledging that sabbaticals are an important opportunity for members of the Marist community to grow as scholars and educators, the Board congratulates the following faculty members and wishes them well in their academic pursuits: Andrei Buckareff, Lynn Eckert, Jen Eden, Matt Frieburghaus, David Gavin, Joanne Gavin, Leigh (Lea) Graham, Frank Merenda, Mary Stone, David Woolner, and Bowu Zhang.
The Board received a report on fall 2022 undergraduate admissions, including the number of applications, number of acceptances, and yield activities planned for the Class of 2026. The Admissions & Enrollment committee reported that the College had completed its early decision and early action acceptances, as well as some regular decision acceptances, and that the Office of Student Financial Services was working to package financial aid awards. While the number of applications for admission to next year’s freshman class is down slightly from the number received at this same point last year, the current pool of accepted students is stronger academically and more diverse (in terms of race/ethnicity and geography).
The Board’s Student Life Committee heard from Crystal Purfield, Director of Marist’s Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP), about the program’s mission of serving at-risk youth from grades 5-12 with drop-out prevention, college preparation, and vocational readiness programs. LPP currently serves 341 students in the Poughkeepsie City School District. Mario Johnson ’91M, Director of Marist’s Upward Bound (UB) program, discussed the program’s mission of providing college preparation to low-income, first-generation, homeless, and foster care high school students. UB currently serves 100 students at Poughkeepsie High School and 47 students at Newburgh Free Academy. Trustees also heard a report from Tenzin Tsundu ’22 on recent SGA activities, including support for Black History Month programming and mental health awareness events.
Trustees also participated in a listening session for the College’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (VP DEI) search. This session was co-facilitated by Addrain Conyers, Director of Academic Diversity & Inclusion and chair of the search committee, and Kim Brettschneider of executive search firm WittKeiffer. Similar to other sessions held with faculty, staff, and students, trustees were solicited for their feedback on the qualities, characteristics, and experiences that Marist should seek in the VP DEI and their observations about the challenges and opportunities associated with this inaugural role. The outcomes of all campus listening sessions will inform the recruitment and hiring strategy for this critically important Cabinet-level position.
Trustees and other meeting participants also received a President’s Report from Kevin Weinman. Among the items covered in that report was an update on the spring semester, including the health and safety protocols that allowed for an in-person and on-time opening. Kevin also described his motivations for the $250,000 pledge that he and his wife Beth recently made in support of access and equity-related initiatives at the College. He expressed his hope that both the Weinman pledge and the recently announced Mauri family gift pledge would help to inspire others, and to enhance the culture of philanthropy already in place at the institution. Kevin also discussed his plans to launch a broadly inclusive strategic planning process in the coming months that will establish a vision and key priorities for the future leading up to the College’s centennial celebration in 2029.
The Board’s next meeting will take place on the Marist campus May 6-7, 2022. Barring any pandemic-related issues, trustees will look forward to additional opportunities to engage with members of the Marist College community during those meetings and events. Our thanks again to those who participated in last weekend’s meeting, and all those whose efforts contribute to the ongoing success of the College.
Ross A. Mauri ’80
Chair of the Board of Trustees