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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

'Quiet meeting' expected as trustees visit campus

By Matthew Stone and Colleen Good

Members of Macalester’s Board of Trustees arrived on campus yesterday and will continue until the end of the day today with a schedule of committee meetings, a luncheon with new faculty members, and a group photograph, among other activities.”It’ll be a pretty quiet meeting,” President Brian Rosenberg said in an interview last week.

Although few action items-initiatives on which the board will vote-are on the agenda for the two days the trustees visit campus, the meeting will represent multiple firsts for the Board, which sets policy for the college and evaluates the performance of the president.

“There will be a lot of new things about this meeting, and that’s part of the challenge,” Rosenberg said.

The October meeting is the first since a shakeup in the Board’s leadership this summer, when Chairman Jeffrey Larson ’79 resigned after the collapse of his Boston hedge fund, Sowood Capital Management, which lost $1.5 billion, or half its value, in July. Timothy Hart-Anderson, a Presbyterian pastor and the only member of the Board who is not an alumnus, is serving as the interim Board chairman until the members settle on a permanent head in May.

The trustees’ meeting also marks the first for the Board’s five newest members, who were scheduled to participate in an orientation session yesterday afternoon for three and one-half hours. Professionally, the new members come from finance, business and non-profit backgrounds. They graduated from Macalester during the 1970s and 1980s.

The new student liaison, Blythe Austin ’08, was scheduled to join the new members in their orientation. The Board voted in the spring to create Austin’s position in an effort to improve communication and understanding between Board members and students. Austin will join trustees during most Board sessions.

Thirteen students will be involved with trustee meetings today as representatives on seven trustee committees.

While some student representatives are involved in student government, such as Macalester College Student Government President Franz Meyer ’09, for others, this is their first time taking part in campus affairs.

Taren Kingser ’10, who serves on the Admissions Committee, said that, while he has not been involved in MCSG before, his experiences serving on a school board subcommittee in high school showed him that he enjoyed the process of working with school leaders.

Kingser said he hopes to “build a means of communication between the student body and the Board of Trustees.”

The Admissions Committee provides oversight of the admissions process, Kingser said. The committee played a part in the decision to move from a need-blind to a need-aware admissions policy, which took effect with the class of 2010. The trustees approved that change in Jan. 2005.

Michael Richter ’10, who serves on the Advancement Committee, echoed Kingser’s sentiments. “I liked the idea of students taking part in every level at Macalester,” Richter said.

Student representatives applied for their positions in late September. When appointed, they were given packets containing information about the subject matter addressed by their committees when the trustees met in March. The student representatives also met with Austin.

While the committee meetings are not open to the general public, the business meeting, taking place this afternoon at 3:30 in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom, will be. Trustees will give reports from the Investment and the Advancement Committees.

According to Rosenberg, the reality of new leadership and five new members on a board of 25 complicates some trustee decision making since not all members have the same amount of institutional knowledge.

“When you have a lot of turnover, it’s hard to provide everyone the context they need to do their jobs,” Rosenberg said.

A plenary session planned for this afternoon could help some members get up to speed on Macalester affairs. Rosenberg will speak to the Board on the “State of the College.” Austin and Biology professor Jan Serie will also speak, offering their thoughts from the student and faculty perspective.

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