DOE, Higher Ed Act and governing boards discussed
In its February board retreat, the Stetson University Board of Trustees led by Chair Luis Prats, elected board treasurer Joe Cooper as the incoming chair. Cooper will transition to chair at the completion of Prats’ three-year term in June 2017. The board also heard from two leading experts about the changing national landscape and transformations occurring in governing boards nationwide, and in a separate meeting, discussed the state of fundraising nationwide and the status of the Stetson University “Beyond Success – Significance” comprehensive campaign.
The Stetson University Board of Trustees Committee on Trusteeship voted to confirm the election of Cooper as the incoming board chair beginning in July 2017. Cooper received both his undergraduate and graduate degree at Stetson University and is the retired President of Big Lots Canada and Executive Vice President of Big Lots, Inc. He previously served on the Stetson School of Business Administration Board of Advisors and was originally elected to the Board of Trustees in May 2011. In addition to his position as board treasurer, Cooper chairs the Athletics committee and sits on the university Audit Committee (Group).
John Walda, president and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), discussed current issues in Washington D.C., including Department of Education priorities with the new administration, the reported Falwell Commission on higher education, tax reform and its potential impact on fundraising, and timing of the Higher Education Act reauthorization in the coming legislative sessions. Walda discussed the emphasis from some members of congress on university endowments, student loans, accountability and risk sharing.
Walda said there are four issues driving higher education: public policy, graduation rates, tuition costs, student debt, and jobs and outcomes.
University Governing Boards
The university’s board also heard from Rick Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB). Legon and AGB have been leading nationwide efforts to help university and college boards understand and realize the shift of national attitudes toward higher education, and the potential for legislative action at the state and national level.
“Boards should lead in adding value to the institution and as advocates for higher education,” said Legon. He added that traditional board structure is changing and boards are moving away from focusing on what has happened to what needs to happen in the next three-to-five years.
Michael Sinkus, senior consultant & principal director of consultant and client engagement at Marts and Lundy, a national philanthropy consulting agency, said Stetson University is on track to achieve its goals with the $150-million “Beyond Success – Significance” comprehensive campaign. Stetson University Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement Jeff Ulmer indicated the campaign was about two-thirds toward its goal, but Sinkus said the board and university development officers would need to work hard to being the campaign to conclusion.
At its meeting the Board of Trustees approved funding for capital projects for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The board approved $13 million for the ongoing renovations and construction at the Carlton Union Building in DeLand and the launch of construction for the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center. The board also approved $3 million for ongoing infrastructure projects at the College of Law in Gulfport.