Summary of the November 2022 Board of Trustees Meeting
Dear members of the Marist College community,
This past weekend (November 4-5) the Marist College Board of Trustees held its annual fall meeting. Consistent with our commitment to keeping faculty, students, staff, and alumni informed about key issues brought before the Board for discussion and decision, below please find a summary of the meeting’s outcomes.
Trustees dedicated five hours on Friday to a strategic planning session, facilitated by Professor of Strategy Helen Rothberg. This session built on a previous half-day strategic visioning session conducted on September 24 and facilitated by Professor of Public Administration James Melitski. The Board also received an update from Strategic Plan Steering Committee (SPSC) co-chairs Emily Saland and James Snyder on stakeholder engagement efforts taking place across campus, as well as the process and timeline that would allow the committee to present the Board with a draft plan for consideration and adoption in May of 2023. We extend our sincere appreciation to Helen Rothberg and James Melitski for their partnership in designing and facilitating these discussions, and our thanks to the members of the SPSC for their continued dedication to this important process.
Saturday’s full Board meeting began with several welcomes and farewells, including a moment of silence for Trustee and Marist Scholar in Residence Bro. Seán Sammon, FMS ’70, who passed away in September. The Board also enthusiastically welcomed the incoming 2022-2023 Faculty and Student Representatives to the Board of Trustees, Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) Chair Nicholas Marshall and Student Government Association President Gabriel Borbon ’23.
We’re pleased to report that, on the recommendation of the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee, the full Board reviewed and unanimously approved the creation of the new Priorities and Resources Committee, adopting the same Faculty Handbook revisions recently approved by the faculty at the November 2, 2022 Plenary. President Weinman thanked Nicholas Marshall and members of the FAC for their commitment to shared governance, and their partnership in designing a committee that would provide faculty with a meaningful voice in the identification and shaping of institutional budget priorities.
The Board also considered and unanimously approved Professor Emeritus/a status for three members of the Marist faculty, in recognition of their many years of service and contributions to the intellectual and cultural life of the College. They are:
- James M. Johnson – Professor Emeritus of History
- Richard Lewis – Professor Emeritus of Art
- Donise English – Professor Emerita of Art
Trustees received an update on the Middle States reaccreditation process, including a summary of the October 25 site visit made by evaluation team chair President Kathy Harring of Muhlenberg College. President Harring met with various constituencies during this visit, including eight Trustees: Eileen Gilfedder Altobelli ’82, Susan Cohen, Donna Dillenberger, Steve Effron, Stan Harris ’68, Bro. John Klein ’70 FMS, Alvin Patrick ’86, and Robert Shanahan ’83. Members of the Board also received a report on the planned finalization of the self-study report in late January/early February, and the four-day visit by the full evaluation team, scheduled for March 19-22, 2023.
The Finance Committee reported on a meeting it conducted with the College’s investment manager, Cambridge Associates. Fiscal year 2022 was challenging for public market investments, and the return on the investment pool at June 30, 2022 was -9.3%, a $38.4 million decrease from the prior year’s ending balance.
The Board also received a report on the financial results for the year ended June 30, 2022. The College’s total assets stood at $998.8 million, although the return on net assets was -3.2%, driven down primarily by investment market performance. Long-term debt increased $51 million, due to the issuance of bonds to finance the Dyson Center project. Operating activities generated a 9.3% margin, or $21 million, which exceeded budget expectations. The outperformance to budget was unusually high in 2022 as the College emerged from the crisis stage of the COVID pandemic. Marist budgeted conservatively for enrollment given continued uncertainties in the market, but was able to exceed budget targets both for new and returning students. Also, the College had planned for a faster pace to fill vacant positions, but labor market challenges slowed new hiring activity relative to expectations, resulting in unplanned expense savings. It is also important to note that the surplus includes $4.6 million of federal institutional support from the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEERF) program, which does not have an offsetting expense in fiscal year 2022, and which will not be available in future years. HEERF funds reimburse the College for COVID-related expenses in spring 2020 and the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Trustees then received an update on the current year’s operating projection compared to budget. The operating surplus is projected to be $7.8 million, a 3.3% margin, which exceeds budget targets due to higher freshman and transfer enrollment, as well as persistent position vacancies despite renewed hiring activity.
The Audit Committee reported that the College’s independent auditors at Grant Thornton had presented the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 and would issue an unmodified (“clean”) opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the College. We’re pleased to report that there were no material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, or audit adjustments found during this audit.
Finally, the Governance Committee brought a number of items before the Board in closed session. We’re pleased to report that the full Board voted unanimously to make the ad hoc D&I Committee a standing committee of the Board, now renamed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
The Board also adopted standing committee assignments for the coming year. Six of the Board’s 11 committees have new chairs:
- Academic Affairs – Maureen O’Rourke ’85, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Boston University
- Admission & Enrollment – Alvin Patrick ’86, Executive Producer, CBS News
- Finance – Robert Shanahan ’83, former President and CEO, Lightower Fiber Networks
- Governance – Jerome Pickett ’98, Founder & CEO, Synth Advisory Services LLC
- Student Life – Steve Effron, President and CEO, EFCO Products, Inc.
- Technology – Chris McCann ’83, President, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM
Committees with continuing chairs include:
- Audit – Genine McCormick ’88/P’16, Certified Public Accountant
- Buildings & Grounds – Gregory Gartland, Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP
- College Advancement – Patrick Lavelle ’73/P’02, President and CEO, Voxx International Corporation
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Stan Harris ’68, Senior Medical Director (ret.), Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NJ
- Executive – Ross Mauri ’80/P’15, General Manager, IBM Z
The Board welcomed incoming committee chairs, and also thanked outgoing chairs for their service. Trustees also acknowledged Suresh Kothapalli ’91M as he concluded his term of service on the Board, and acted on the reappointment of several other members whose terms were up for renewal.
The Board’s annual meeting will take place in February on the Marist campus, and we look forward to updating members of the campus community on the major outcomes of that meeting. Our thanks again to those who contributed to the success of last weekend’s meetings and events, and best wishes to all for a successful conclusion to the fall 2022 term.
Ross A. Mauri ’80
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Kevin C. Weinman