The Board of Trustees held its first board meeting of 2018 at the end of last week, with a full agenda and a busy set of committee meetings. Action items for trustees included the approval of an updated capital budget for FY18 and a vote to accept the external auditor’s reports.
Each vote is important, but for me the most exciting vote was the one approving the slate of faculty tenure, promotion, and emeritus/a appointments that we recommended, an approval which included granting tenure to six Legal Practice Skills faculty, a group who were previously ineligible for this distinction. Once again we will honor those who were awarded tenure, promotion, or emeritus/a status at the Board Plus dinner in April. This will be a wonderful evening focused on the incredible accomplishments of individuals who sit at the epicenter of so much that we do – our faculty. But let me take a moment now to say CONGRATULATIONS to all those awarded such honors. We are very proud of all you have accomplished and all you do each day to advance student learning, research, and this institution.
Over the course of the two days trustees were here on campus, they also listened to a number of very important presentations, a couple of which I want to highlight here. The Board’s Student Affairs Committee heard from Dean of Students Ann Coyne and Director of Student Outreach and Support Amanda McGrath, who discussed, among other things, the new student food bank we are establishing at Suffolk. Student food insecurity here and across the nation is a growing phenomenon and we are working hard to ensure that we provide our students the support they need to thrive. Thanks to trustee Susan Connelly and a donation from her employer, the Darden Group, the new student food pantry will be built and ready for use before the start of the fall semester. Amanda shared with trustees just how impactful this predictable source of food will be for some of our students.
The committee also heard about the Journey Leadership Program from undergraduate Morgan Robb, who gave a firsthand account about the impact of her engagement in the program, especially her experience swimming with manatees.
On Thursday night, College of Arts & Sciences Dean Maria Toyoda talked about the faculty, programs, and innovative initiatives unfolding in the College. Trustees and administrators were joined by the College Alumni Board members. It was a wonderful opportunity for all to interact with one another as their window into CAS grew larger. I think the trustees were especially interested in Physics Professor Walter Johnson’s new virtual reality initiative and its impact on teaching and learning across all three schools, and with the phenomenal candidates in our CAS faculty search pool.
On Friday, the Board heard a full report on our Title IX efforts, ranging from student, faculty, and staff training, to details about the Title IX hearing process, to a look at the categories of cases we have experienced in recent years. A key message: We take Title IX seriously, we are committed to treating all parties fairly, and we have no tolerance for inappropriate conduct.
The success of the Student Philanthropy Center also was a topic of discussion with the Board’s Advancement Committee. Caitlin Haughey, senior director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Lais Fortaleza, assistant director, and their team, along with a group of student callers, briefed the committee on their work in raising significantly more donations than in past years.
My thanks to all the members of the Suffolk community who have worked so hard on all of these and other initiatives. And again, my hearty congratulations to our faculty members who have received tenure, promotion and emeritus/a appointments.
Marisa J. Kelly