Trustees prepare for 'a lighter meeting'

By Matt Day

If all goes as planned in the Weyerhauser Board Room the afternoon of May 15, Macalester College will officially have a graduating class. Each year at its May meeting, the Board of Trustees approves the graduating class as recommended by the faculty. The tradition, which has spanned the board’s lifespan, is the ceremonial highlight of the board’s annual May gathering. Board chair the Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen called it “a little bit of a lighter meeting,” though the board will conduct some serious administrative business during the May 15-17 meetings.

Hart-Andersen, interim Board chair since Jeffrey Larson ’79 resigned in July, will be presiding over his last meeting. The board is scheduled to approve a successor recommended by the Trustee Committee.

Though the Trustee Committee was charged with narrowing the candidates for chair, Hart-Andersen said that “every single trustee in a quiet way has had an influence on who the trustee is going to be.”

When approved, the new chair will serve a four-year term, with the option to run for a second, student Board liaison Blythe Austin ’08 said.

It will also be the last Board meeting for Austin, who will graduate with her class on the final day of the meeting. Austin was the first to hold the student liaison position, created by MCSG and the Board at the end of the 2006-07 academic year. She has presided along with MCSG over the creation of a set of student representative positions on various board committees.

Franz Meyer ’09 was selected as the next liaison, a position he will be trained for at the May meeting and will take on full time when the trustees return in October.

Austin said that Meyer will be better prepared for the position than she was.

“It’ll be nice [for Meyer],” Austin said. “I was kind of thrown in the deep end. I just showed up [at the October meeting].”

The academic affairs committee will discuss the faculty’s sabbatical proposal, though it may not decide to approve the motion. The faculty approved a proposal that would reduce the number of teaching years between sabbaticals from six years to three. The motion must be passed by the academic affairs committee before it can be voted on by the Board.

The meeting will also serve as the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Institute for Global Citizenship building. President Brian Rosenberg and Hector Pascual Alvarez ’08 will speak at the May 16 event.

The IGC building, the first Macalester building to be financed without any accumulation of debt, has met 85 percent of its fundraising goal of at least $7 million.

The Sudan divestment proposal, approved by MCSG in February, would divest the Macalester endowment from funds currently invested in companies with ties to the Sudanese government. The endowment currently has $75,000 invested in one stock connected with Sudan, and some students say Macalester should take a principled stance against contributing to a genocidal regime.

“It’s unclear if the full Board needs to pass a resolution to support Sudan divestment,” Austin said. “The Board of Trustees’ by-laws don’t spell out how such a motion should be handled.”

Hart-Andersen said that he enjoyed his time as Board chair and that he would consider assuming a leadership position if he was called upon again.

“It was an honor for me to take the chair,” he said. “I was glad to be able to help out.

“We’ve got a terrific board, an outstanding staff, we’re in a strong position.”

Hart-Andersen also said he thought the first year of having a student Board liaison position had been success. “This first year has gone very well,” he said.