The faculty meeting was called to order by President Ronald A. Crutcher at 2:00 pm on Friday, October 5, 2012 in Hindle Auditorium.
Alex Trayford, Associate Dean of Studies and Chair of the Committee on Academic Standing presented the following students who have fulfilled all requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts:
Harry Philip Altman¹
Nolan Gerard Corr
Libba Earp Farrar
Danielle Nicole Hamlett
Nicholas James Aresvik Jacobsen
Kathryn Ann Murphy
Ronny Konstantine Sarianides¹
summa cum laude
Laura Renee Parker
magna cum laude
Maris Laura Jahnke
Candidate for Degree with Honors in the Field of Concentration
Laura Renee Parker Neuroscience, Class of 2011
The faculty voted to accept the recommendation of the committee.
The minutes of the September 7, 2012 faculty meeting were approved.
President Crutcher began by announcing the recent passing of Addison Lewellyn Jennings, husband of Professor of Chemistry Emerita Bojan Jennings. There will be a memorial service for Mr. Jennings on November 20th at 11:00 am in Mary Lyon Hall.
At the upcoming Board of Trustees Meeting the decision that the Board will be making, to endorse the strategic initiatives plan, represents a turning point for Wheaton. In speaking about the current plan, the President reflected on other historical decisions that have been made for Wheaton going back to 1897. The President said that the point is that the problems the College is now facing are not so different from some of those in earlier years in its history. The plan which will be presented to the Board of Trustees later this month will result in diversifying the campus (students) and the academic offerings, so that the College may become more competitive and financially sustainable. The President is confident that the plan being presented to the Board will help to sustain the future of the College. He noted that there are three additional items being presented to the Board. One is the financial scenario described at the last faculty meeting, another will be an update of Phase III of the Focus Plan, and finally, a comprehensive communication plan. The President reminded the faculty that both the Faculty Planning and Priorities Committee and the Staff Planning and Priorities Committee will attend the Friday morning plenary session when these presentations are made to the Board of Trustees. Tom Sternal, marketing consultant, will present updated data on the marketing videos and the marketing plan. President Crutcher stated that while there are financial challenges facing the College, the institution is, in many ways, stronger than ever: there is the new Mars Center for Science and Technology; the second year of the CORE program was successful and has played a part in retaining students who had already committed to the College; fundraising has gone very well, as close to $110,000,000 has been raised toward the Campaign goal of $120,000,000. He noted that even if the $120,000,000 Campaign goal is reached before the end of this year, next year the Campaign will continue to raise the $44,000,000 needed for the Scholarship Fund. In terms of grants and contracts, the President said that we have the highest level of grants and grant applications in the history of the College thanks to those faculty members who have been awarded grants and those who have submitted applications. Finally, President Crutcher commented on the beauty of the College campus thanks to the staff of the Physical Plant.
Provost Linda Eisenmann began by announcing publications and exhibitions by faculty members. Associate Professor of Film, Jake Mahaffy’s film “Miracle Boy” premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival in September. Professor Mahaffy’s film was the only US film among the fourteen international short films selected . In addition, a collection of his films was showcased at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last month. Professor of Religion, Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus has two publications. The first appears in the “Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2011”. His piece in that publication is entitled “Sukkot: The Paradigmatic Harvest Festival”. In addition, he has a chapter in an edited book called Writing Food History: A Global Perspective. His chapter is called “’Bread from Heaven, Bread From The Earth’: Recent Trends in Jewish Food History.” Professor of Geology, Geoffrey Collins was Vice Chair of National Research Council’s Committee on Planetary Protection Standards for Icy Bodies in the Outer Solar System. The report that was written by that committee has been published as Assessment for Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar Systems Bodies.
Provost Eisenmann, referring to a memo that came out earlier in the day from Associate Provost Gail Sahar, announced that Claude Steele, the Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University will be speaking on campus at the end of the month. Since his visit will touch on the Infusion aspect of our curriculum, she urged the faculty to encourage their classes to attend his talk. The Provost went on to say there will be two additional opportunities for faculty to meet with the Board of Trustees—two LIS staff and two faculty members will give a set of presentations, organized by Scott Hamlin, on technology-enhanced learning to the Faculty/Staff Committee, and at the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, four faculty members will speak from different perspectives about the role of a permanent faculty on a college campus. Professor Darlene Boroviak will speak as the Chair of the Tenure Committee, Associate Professor John Partridge will speak primarily from his role as a Department Chair, Associate Professor Christopher Kalberg will speak as Chair of the Committee on Committees and Agenda, and Associate Professor Kim Miller will speak from the perspective of a recently tenured faculty member. Lastly, the Provost reminded the faculty that the November faculty meeting is scheduled for the second Friday of the month (November 9th).
Professor MaryBeth Tierney-Tello, Chair of the Committee on Faculty Scholarship and Promotion, spoke about the recent revisions that were made to the Guidelines for Promotion and distributed to the faculty earlier in the week. She announced that there will be an open meeting to discuss the promotion process on October 25th. In addition to Professor Tierney-Tello, members of the committee this year are Professors Mark LeBlanc and Hyun Kim, and Provost Eisenmann.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Lee Burdette Williams informed the faculty of updates to the Sexual Misconduct Policy. At the request of the Office of Civil Rights, charges of sexual misconduct will be heard in front of a Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board made up of staff and faculty members rather than the College Hearing Board whose membership includes students. She noted that sexual assault and sexual misconduct are really community-wide problems, so a call went out asking for volunteers to be part of a formal process to serve as investigators of the charges being brought against a student, as procedural advisors to both the student who is being accused and the accuser, and as hearing board officers. Dean Williams now speaks to small groups of students at Orientation about the College’s sexual misconduct policy rather than speaking to them in a large group. The faculty viewed the slides that are presented to the students during these group sessions at Orientation and Dean Williams spoke about the information that she shares with the students, including the services that are available to them. She pointed out information available on the Wheaton website and urged the faculty to direct their colleagues, who were not present at this meeting, to the website. She went on to inform the faculty and staff of their obligation as employees of Wheaton College noting that they cannot promise confidentiality; only members of the Counseling Center staff are authorized to keep confidentiality in these cases. In the event that a faculty or staff member is informed of an incident, they can go to the College’s website for a link to the SMART team where they will find a link to an anonymous tracking form to fill out and return to the SMART team coordinator. A brief discussion followed. Gary Ahrendts, Co-Chair of Staff Council, suggested that Dean Williams add Administrative Mentors for freshmen to the list of faculty and staff that students can go to for help. Professor Claire Buck, the faculty member serving on SMART, announced that the Team is conducting a short survey to gather baseline data to help them to move forward with their work which is being supported by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The survey will be distributed to the faculty early in November. Dean Williams pointed out that the Foundation views Wheaton as a model campus for the work that the group of faculty and staff are doing on sexual assault and misconduct.
President Crutcher spoke about the Committee of the Whole discussion of the strategic initiatives at the September faculty Meeting. Several questions regarding the endowment performance and the proposed business program were raised at that time. He called on Vice President for Finance and Administration Brian Douglas who, through a PowerPoint presentation, showed the faculty the endowment performance in various years. He explained what each line in the graph represented, pointing out that in most years, Wheaton’s endowment performance was similar to that of other colleges of our size. In 2010 and in 2011, the endowment differed from the other schools (no data is available for 2012 at this time). Mr. Douglas explained that the endowment is made up of a number of various types of investments and those investments are distributed into different categories, giving examples. At some point in the early to mid 2000s, the College made substantial investments in private investments. The NACUBO average for the share of a college portfolio in private investments is eight to ten percent. Wheaton’s portfolio averaged fifteen to twenty percent due to decisions made by the Investment Committee who, at that time, saw these investments as a way to increase the College’s endowment. Mr. Douglas explained that it is not easy to “exit out” of such private investments, so when the downturn in the market took place, it affected the endowment. He noted that the Investment Committee is very much aware of this. At the suggestion of Mr. David Wagner, a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Investment Committee, the College hired an investment advisor (LVW Advisors) in 2009 to advise the Investment Committee. He emphasized that the Investment Committee is very committed to making the best choices for the College. In 2012, the private investment portion of the portfolio increased the endowment slightly. However, the Investment Committee is not satisfied having such a substantial portion of the endowment tied up in private investments so the investment advisor has been asked to review options for how to transition a portion of those assets into a different set of assets that would perform more predictably. Mr. Douglas said that by January or February, he will know whether or not the College’s endowment performance for 2012 resembles that of other endowments.
Discussion followed. Professor Stephanie Daniels asked why it takes so long to get out of the investments that are problematic. Mr. Douglas explained that the College would have to take a loss on these investments if they are moved to another investment category too soon. Professor Betsey Dyer questioned whether or not the investment advisors are paying enough attention to the College’s other investments. Mr. Douglas assured her that he is confident that they are doing all they can to improve the circumstance for this endowment. He noted that the current situation is due to some investment choices made over ten years ago. The President reminded the faculty that 85% of the College’s budget depends on net tuition and fees and the balance is derived from other sources, including approximately seven percent from the endowment. He explained that the Board of Trustees is urging the College to move quickly on implementing the new strategic initiatives to become more competitive, thus increasing enrollments to bring in more revenue. Professor John Kricher asked how we compare to other colleges in terms of the percentage figure from the endowment to support the budget and how the Campaign affects the endowment. Mr. Douglas explained that the Northeast Nine average amounts to 12% of endowment support of budgets. That figure represents the larger endowments within that peer group. The College applies a certain ceiling to how much of the endowment can be put toward the budget, based on a rolling average of the endowment times 5%. He noted that other colleges that have larger endowments apply an even smaller percentage towards their operating budgets. In terms of whether there might by any significant growth when our Campaign is completed, he explained that most colleges go immediately into beginning another campaign, so he doesn’t expect that there will be any differential improved growth for Wheaton right after the Campaign. Also, some Campaign gifts are designated for certain portions of the College’s budget such as capital projects (e.g., the new Mars Center for Science and Technology and the turf field) and gifts to the operating budget.
Provost Linda Eisenmann spoke about the proposed Business Major. Nationally, approximately 20% of all undergraduate degrees are awarded in business, finance, accounting, or marketing, etc. Undergraduate business programs tend to enroll more men than women so that could help Wheaton in maintaining a balanced undergraduate population. She went on to say that of the top thirty-five schools that Wheaton competes against, nineteen offer a major in business or a related field. Thus, it might be a disadvantage not to offer a business major. In the Northeast Nine, Muhlenberg is the only school that offers a major in business, although Colby offers a minor. The Provost said that, in talking with Admissions, business represents the single largest field that applicants ask about. The best guess of how many additional students a business major would attract is approximately twenty-five. The Provost suggested that we keep in mind the admissions recruiting cycle when we consider how and when to talk about a proposed major.
Mr. Douglas talked about the anticipated costs for this program:
- An increase in financial aid.
- The costs associated with hiring new faculty.
- Possible LIS implications.
- Added specific services and materials tied to business majors that we don’t currently subscribe to or have.
- Additional adjunct faculty that may be needed.
He estimated that the anticipated revenue for the College in the first full year, even after all of the expenses, could amount to $500,000; after four full years of offering the major, the net to the bottom line could amount to $2,600,000. He cautioned that these numbers are not “set in stone, ”as many issues could change. Provost Eisenmann noted that in some instances, students who come to Wheaton thinking that they might major in business could change their minds and major in another discipline; the opposite could occur, as well. She went on to say that she has had questions about whether the level of salary offered to the business faculty might be higher than that of traditional liberal arts faculty. She explained that it is true that most business faculty who teach at graduate schools of business and at AACSB accredited schools likely command higher salaries. However, the faculty that we will be recruiting would recognize that a liberal arts college setting will be different. Professor Bob Morris asked about housing for the additional students and whether it is linked to the plan to increase our global diversity. Mr. Douglas said that, in the five-year projections, there are plans to expand housing. In terms of attracting international students, the Provost said that the expectation is that the business major will probably attract domestic students but it isn’t out of the question that international students will be interested as well. She went on to say that the Admissions staff is currently focusing on recruiting international students overall, especially those from China. Professor John Miller asked if there are any projections for the level of compensation for hiring the business faculty members. Provost Eisenmann responded that it would depend on the level of experience. She noted that the PPC suggested that a more experienced professor be hired soon to help get the program up and running. Mr. Douglas said that, in his cost estimations, he projected the salary (not including benefits) for the more senior person would be in the range of $100,000 and $80,000 for the other two. Professor Tommasina Gabriele expressed her concern about hiring these new faculty members at salaries that are a lot higher than those of some current faculty members and the creation of a “two-tier faculty”, which would change the relationship of faculty to one another. Professor John Partridge also expressed his concern for a “tiered” faculty and that the adjuncts hired for the business program could be hired at a salary higher than those of our current adjuncts. He asked about the terminal degrees for business faculty and whether or not they will have academic credentials. Provost Eisenmann said that the Committee on Committees and Agenda is about to announce a faculty committee to address the very concerns being expressed by the faculty. She said that, in searching for business faculty, she will be looking for candidates who have liberal arts teaching experience and interest, as well as business experience.
Professor Kathy Morgan asked about increasing the student body, especially with regard to international students. She spoke about the issues that occur around language barriers and cultural differences. The Provost said that the administration has taken those issues into consideration and will be looking at applicants who have a command of the English language. There is the possibility of creating a “summer bridge program,” an eight-week summer program which will be offered for those international students who will be attending Wheaton to help them with the language, writing and acquainting them with the culture. She noted that there will be a need for more support for faculty to help them with both academic and personal advising. Professor Morgan said that she would hope that there would be support for faculty and staff so as to make these transitions smoother, but she also emphasized the opportunities for increased globalization of the campus that appear with the addition of more students from around the world.
President Crutcher reminded the faculty that the Board of Trustees will be meeting on October 19th and that both the faculty and the staff Planning and Priorities Committees will be attending that meeting. Following the Board of Trustee meetings, the President will communicate the results of those meetings with the faculty and staff.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 pm.
Lynda S. Marcoccia
Senior Executive Assistant to the Provost
Secretary to the Faculty