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May 2013 SPU Board of Trustees Report

Dan Martin, President

The Board of Trustees meetings began on Wednesday, May 15, with Committees: Trusteeship, Academic Affairs, and Finance/Audit/Facilities. Wednesday evening we heard a very informative and challenging presentation on the future of higher education by Dr. Cable Green, director of global learning with Creative Commons. I’m grateful that members of the Deans’ Cabinet, Faculty Council, and representatives of Student Life could attend both the Board dinner and the presentation. Dr. Green also led three separate sessions for various campus groups on Thursday morning and then re-joined the Board during the afternoon’s executive session to conclude his time on campus.

One of the highlights for Thursday morning was a devotional brought by Dr. Sara Koenig. Her words and thoughts on the life of Naomi from the book of Ruth were meaningful, challenging, and inspiring. I am continually amazed by the tremendous community of scholars at SPU.

Trusteeship

Dr. Doug Backous '84, Brad Thoreson '85, and Dr. Jim Mannoia were re-elected to the Board of Trustees for three-year terms. Vic Moses '70 is returning to the Board and was also elected for a three-year term. Additionally, Vic Moses was appointed chair of the Finance, Audit, and Facilities Committee, while Dr. Mannoia was appointed chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

The 2013-14 officers were elected. They are:

Chair: Gary Ames
Vice Chair: Doug Backous
Treasurer: Vic Moses
Secretary: Matt Whitehead

Amber Frazier, who will be graduating from SPU in June with a degree in physics, was elected as the Honorary Young Alumni member.

Finally, we recognized the outstanding service and leadership of three outgoing members of the Board:

Dennis Weibling – Chair of the Board
Fred Stabbert – Chair of Finance, Audit, and Facilities
Joel VanderHoek '09 – Honorary Young Alumni Member

Committee Action Items

Many of the items from the Finance, Audit, and Facilities Committee were related to banking resolutions and delegations of authority for property transactions, securities, and other business transactions. For Academic Affairs, the action items related to approval of Faculty Handbook changes as proposed by the Faculty Senate.

Autumn 2013 Enrollment Update

We are generally on track to meet the enrollment goals for Autumn 2013, including:

  • Currently, 5,139 freshmen applications.
  • 87 percent of applicants have completed, on par with recent years.
  • 770 freshmen confirmations for Autumn 2013 (to achieve 780 enrolled, we will need about 880 total confirmations).
  • 195 freshmen and 30 transfer students registered on Saturday, May 18, close to goal for the day.
  • Average high school GPA (3.59) and test scores (1146) for confirmed freshmen similar to last year.
  • 32 percent of freshmen confirmations are men, on par with prior two-year average
  • Students of color make up 33.5 percent of confirmed freshmen, slightly higher than last year.
  • 85 percent of confirmed freshmen are from Washington state, California, Oregon, and Colorado.

Financials

Financial reports to the Board included updates on enrollment, revenues, and operating expenses for the 10 months ending April 30, 2013. We were pleased to report that tuition revenues and financial aid expenditures will meet final budget expectations and that expenses are all within the budget plan for the year. We were especially pleased to share with the Board that the endowment has just reached $60 million as a result of the improved equity markets and from new money being added to endowment. The institution's liquidity remains strong and a small operating surplus is predicted at year-end, which will allow us to fund some important capital projects this summer.

Summer Projects

The Board reviewed the following key, or primary, projects:

  • Following the work in Ashton Hall last summer, the Hill Hall resident community bathrooms, lounge areas, and kitchens will be refurbished.
  • Reconfigure the Student Academic Services space.
  • Classroom upgrades McKenna 111, 117, 118, and Bertona classroom 2.
  • Convert lower Royal Brougham Pavilion classroom to Human Performance Lab.
  • Construct Mechanical Engineering lab in Otto Miller Hall.
  • Extend campus network wiring ― east campus, SUB, Peterson, and Alexander.
  • Continue planned facility improvements for emergency preparedness (restricted access, lockdown measures, etc.).

Gift of Property

The Board has accepted a gift of a multifamily property at 68 W. Etruria from Burt and Ralene Walls. This gift continues a long legacy of Walls family support of the University. Ultimately, the use of the property is designated for the construction of employee housing.

Purchase of Property

The Board approved (at the February 2013 meeting) the purchase of properties at 359 W. Ewing Street and 348 and 360 W. Nickerson Street (Northwest Millwork property) and 361 and 371 W. Ewing Street and 366 W. Nickerson Street (King property). Both of these properties are within our Master Institutional Plan as approved by the City of Seattle and represent a major strategic acquisition for the long-term needs of the University.

The financial resource for the acquisition is a result of last year's sale of the tennis courts and Robbins Apartments. As you may recall, both the tennis courts and the apartments were outside our city-approved institutional zone. This action extends the University's long-standing position to pursue property within our approved operating zone as it becomes available.

University Giving and Endowment

Current year gift total equals $4,037,461 while Foundation assets increased nearly $8.4 million to end the quarter at $110.6 million, including the $60 million endowment mentioned earlier.

Strategic Planning

The Board of Trustees affirmed the next steps in our strategic planning process, and I want to keep the community informed as the plan unfolds.

As a reminder, the broad Strategic Planning timeframe and framework is as follows:

Dates Topic/Focus
February–March 2013 Mission, Values, Beliefs
April–May 2013 Vision
July–August 2013 Alignment/Gap Analysis: Exploring Capacity, Constraints, and Challenges
September–November 2013 Strategic Goals (Draft presented to Board)
December 2013–February 2014 Strategic Objectives and Action Steps
July 1, 2014 Implementation Begins

The first two components related to Mission, Values, Beliefs, and Vision constituted broad campus engagement in an effort to capture what we believe and value as a community, defining the very essence of SPU ― elements that must remain vibrant, informative, and intentionally present in our future. The next stage, Vision, began to explore and identify our shared hopes and dreams for our future as a means to ensure SPU continues to thrive.
 
In an effort to engage as many across campus as possible, I believe it would be beneficial for the campus community to view the strategic planning data and even respond with your own thoughts and reflections, if you haven't done so already. Thus, by the end of May, I will be posting on the IDM website all the data the strategic planning process has generated to date. I believe you will be impressed with the rich and thoughtful responses offered by those who have participated. Prior to posting, the data will be "scrubbed" to remove any personal identifiers and to protect anonymity.

At the end of the data that we will post on the IDM site, you will find the last five questions I posed to our Blackboard groups. The five questions relate directly to the framework I laid out in my inaugural address plus one that I have added after analyzing the responses and conversations received so far in the planning process. The areas are:

  1. Educational Excellence and Relevance
  2. Transformative and Holistic Student Experience
  3. Vital Christian Identity and Purpose
  4. Resource Development and Attainment
  5. Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency

If you haven't had an opportunity to participate in the planning sessions, I would invite your responses to these five questions. Your thoughts and ideas will be a crucial piece in hearing from as many perspectives as possible regarding our future together. Addie Davis (adavis@spu.edu) will be collating the responses, so simply email your responses to her by August 1.

Over the summer and into the fall, I will be working with the Board of Trustees, the Senior Leadership Team, and others as we explore the data in an effort to define a draft set of objectives to support each of the five goals noted above. Beginning in the fall, the draft objectives will be placed in front of the community for comment, consideration, and refinement. This will be accomplished in a variety of ways and all faculty and staff will have an opportunity to participate. A draft of the Strategic Plan's goals and objectives will be presented to the Board of Trustees in November.

This summarizes the strategic planning process as I currently conceive it. If you have any questions or suggestions about the process, I would welcome an email or call from you.

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