On Business and Boardrooms: Board of Trustees meetings and student liaison position updates

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Especially in light of last week’s Mac Weekly interview with President Rosenberg, I will here summarize the agenda items from the Board of Trustees meetings earlier this month; provide news of expanded criteria for the Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees; and extend an invitation to all students to consider applying for this immensely challenging but rewarding position.

First, the Finance Committee discussed the 2014-2015 operating budget forecast, approval of the 2015-2016 operating budget, and the future of the ACTC shared value collaboration. Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton credited Macalester’s current financial state with unexpected revenue and specific actions Macalester has undertaken.

Simultaneously, the Academic Affairs Committee boasted a packed agenda: updates from Kathy Murray; a presentation on Assessment and the Higher Education Learning Commission; and a presentation on non-tenure track faculty from Professor Dan Hornbach, Co-Chair of the Resources and Planning Committee (RPC). This latter presentation compared Macalester to national figures and peer institutions and shared findings from campus surveys to better understand the demographics, needs and interests of non-tenure track faculty and other faculty as well.

At the Advancement Committee meeting, Vice President of Advancement Andrew Brown shared his team’s assessment of fiscal year 2015’s goal progress, followed by thoughts on the Strategic Plan and campaign planning.

The Campus Life Committee hosted three main discussion topics: evaluation of the Student Liaison to the Board of the Trustees eligibility criteria; the third-year residency requirement; and the search for a new Director of the Career Development Center. Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Committee discussed the IT system security review and embarked on a field trip of the newly purchased 1550 Summit property.

After casual lunch conversations ranging from the Library of Congress archives to the new Vikings Stadium, President Rosenberg delivered his plenary with an opening acknowledgement of “the spring in people’s step over the Strategic Plan priorities approved” in January. Next, Gary Martin presented information on the endowment and conversation around fossil fuel divestment on-campus. Finally, the Board discussed changes to their meeting schedules and restructuring of their current committees.

At the Business Meeting, President Rosenberg provided his impressions of progress on three main Strategic Plan priorities since January: entrepreneurship, vocation, and diversity. Finally, the Board congratulated Paul Anderson ‘73 on his service on the Board and the conclusion of his term, before moving into Executive Session.

As mentioned before, the Campus Life Committee agreed to update the eligibility criteria for applicants to the Student Liaison position. Previously, one mandatory criterion included previous Board experience. Concerned with the incongruence between service on various Board committees, the relative lack of preparation provided by such service, the consistent privileging of MCSG students for fulfilling this criterion, and the countless other channels for representational leadership that exist within our community, I re-envisioned these criteria. Laurie Hamre and I met to author the changes below.

The new criteria, therefore, read as follows. All italicized phrases represent updates as of this month:

Candidates will be:
-Continuously enrolled at Macalester during the full year term
-Able to attend all Board of Trustees meetings during the full-year term
-In good standing with a current GPA of at least 2.75
-Engaged in representative bodies, as demonstrated through at least one of these avenues:
a) service on campus-wide committee in conjunction with faculty/staff,
b) service on a previous Board committee,
c) semester or year-long leadership broadly defined, either on-campus or off-campus (ISP mentor, ESP, DML staff, LOC sophomore leader, identity collective leadership, RA, team captain, student org, etc.)

Candidates should be able to demonstrate:
-Verbal and written communication skills
-Adeptness at building relationships, working both individually and in groups (students, administrators, trustees, sometimes faculty)
-Commitment to understanding student voice
-Ability to thoughtfully translate and represent student voice
-In-depth understanding of and investment in different parts of campus and different student experiences (academics, civic engagement, workstudy, student orgs, etc.)

With these newly defined criteria, I hope to warmly encourage different kinds of students to imagine themselves in these committee meetings, tasked with representing the student voice to our Board of Trustees. I firmly believe that countless students within our student body can now demonstrate their experience representing diverse interests, understanding student voice, communicating effectively and ethically, and investing in communities on and off-campus. Regardless of your major, gender, race, future career path or any other obstacle (societally imposed and/or self-reinforced), this role requires an invested thoughtful translator. And I strongly encourage students to consider applying for this utterly unparalleled role on-campus.