October 7, 2009
Gary Abramson, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees September 2009 Meeting Summary
The American University Board of Trustees held its 2009 meeting and retreat on Thursday,
September 24 and Friday, September 25 on the AU campus. On September 24, the board hosted a presentation and discussion with two higher education leaders – Molly Broad, president of the
American Council on Education (ACE) and John Lippincott, president of the Council for
Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The board also heard a presentation from Dean
Claudio Grossman of the Washington College of Law.
Ms. Broad spoke on major issues facing American higher education and in particular, the future ethnic and demographic changes and the competition that U.S. colleges and universities now confront. Mr. Lippincott spoke about fundraising in the new economic climate, appropriately aligning resources and messages, and the need to engage your students as future alumni. Dean
Grossman provided a current assessment of the law school and the impressive success and growth of its programs, initiatives, faculty and students over the past decade. .
The full board meeting was held on Friday September 25. Friday morning, a number of trustees attended classes to see first-hand the teaching/learning underway across campus. The sessions were followed with a tour of the library so that trustees could see the renovations recently completed and envision how libraries are evolving for the future and what improvements are needed to bring the library to “state of the art.”
Board business included the approval of Seth Cutter as the new student trustee. A brief report from the Audit Committee by chair Charlie Lydecker followed and the board voted to accept the 2009 audited financial statements based on the report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers that an unqualified opinion was issued, the scope of the audit was carried out as planned, and that no material weaknesses in internal controls were noted.
The Communications Committee reported out on the status of the university’s branding initiative, and a discussion was led by Executive Director of Communications and Marketing Terry Flannery and Elizabeth Scarborough of the Simpson Scarborough higher education marketing firm. The presentation and discussion focused on the survey results in which key internal and external audiences were contacted regarding their opinions of American University’s strengths, weaknesses, and image. This data will be important in helping to shape the focus of AU’s future branding initiative and efforts.
President Kerwin reported that the summer enrollments were slightly ahead of targets and the overall fall enrollment will meet or exceed targets; fall revenues are projected to meet the goals set in the first year of the two-year budget. In addition, AU’s retention rate is the highest ever – at 90.4%, and the graduation rate stands at 78%.
President Kerwin also reported that Moody’s had reaffirmed AU’s “A” rating, and that Standard and
Poor’s upgraded the university from an “A” to an “A+” rating.
The president led a discussion of the status of the H1N1 virus on campus and AU’s preparations.
Vice President Hanson confirmed that daily cases are still being reported in “single digits,” which is less than the numbers and percentages at other institutions, and she described the protocols in place for when a student gets ill. Provost Bass reported on preparations being made to ensure that the teaching/learning continues; and Executive Director Flannery described the communications efforts underway or being planned.
Finally, President Kerwin said that the Middle States periodic review report was submitted to the external review team, and their positive assessment would be sent to the Middle States Commission for final review and approval.
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be November 19 and 20.