In my inauguration speech, I said that we would bring a stronger voice to sharing our story. And, in fact, we are already doing so. I have never heard the collective voice of the Suffolk community stronger than it was on October 12 and throughout Suffolk’s Inauguration and Alumni and Family Weekend. In the nearly two weeks since, I have heard the same sentiment from so many of you, as well as from people who didn’t know the Suffolk community as well and experienced that strength of voice firsthand.
It is inspiring to see this kind of shared belief in our community, our mission, and our future. Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff, came together over Inauguration and Alumni and Family Weekend to celebrate all that we are and all that we can be. We made a statement to ourselves, to the city of Boston, and importantly to representatives from the higher education community across New England and the nation that we are Suffolk University and — more than just a line from a speech — we are, indeed, a powerful force for good, working together to create transformational pathways of opportunity for the members of our richly diverse community.
Our collective and shared purpose is leading to greater success across the University. Our enrollments are stronger. Our alumni and fundraising program for the year is off to an excellent start. Our new brand campaign, created with input from across the University, has launched with great initial success. As we help students make their way, we are also making our way. And we are doing it as a community. We made that loud and clear October 12.
And to ensure that we will do so far into the future, we are working across the campus to develop our new strategic plan: Suffolk 2025. In a packed Town Hall Forum last week, I talked about responses to our mission survey and the next steps in the development of the new plan. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees will all be part of our planning process. Your engagement with that process is key, so please look for opportunities in the coming weeks and months to provide your thoughts on Suffolk and our future. As you do so, I will look for opportunities to keep you informed about our process and our progress.
I will also be keeping the Board of Trustees updated, as they play an important part in strategic planning, and ultimately must approve any final plan before we can begin its implementation. With this in mind, the Board and senior administrators held a joint retreat in August as a first phase of our planning process. The retreat helped frame some of the boundaries of the strategic planning process, and importantly, it gave us some time to think about possibilities without being trapped by our daily routines.
In addition, at the Board meeting last week I provided trustees with an update on our planning process. I shared with them the same information I provided to you at the Town Hall Forum, listened to their ideas, and addressed their questions. It was a great conversation.
The Board also took some important actions during its meeting and heard other essential reports. Highlights of Board actions include:
- Holding its third annual Trustee Orientation
- Approving two honorary degree recipients (we will announce the slate when all three have been finalized)
- Setting tuition, room and board, and fee rates for the next academic year
- Approving a new master’s degree in Medical Dosimetry
- Reviewing the positive financial results for FY18, approving the FY18 audit, and reviewing the annual conflict of interest forms
- Listening to an overview of our academic program review process and major outcomes
- Approving a set of very positive changes to our employee retirement plan, effective January 1, 2019, which will provide more investment options and remove barriers to entry in the plan.
Yes, it has been a busy fall for us all, and I hope an uplifting one for each of you. We are a community, we are moving forward, and we are working together to plan our future. And remember, a stronger voice requires a strong community. My thanks to our entire community for all that you are doing to keep that momentum alive.
Marisa J. Kelly