Notes - February 19, 2021

The Board met on Friday, February 19, 2021. General remarks by the Board Chair (Tony Friscia), the President (Elizabeth Bradley), the FPCC Chair (Mia Mask), the VSA President (Prashit Parikh), and the AAVC President (Steven Hankins) opened the meeting.

The Board approved the proposed budget presented by Bryan Swarthout for fiscal year 2021–2022, which includes modest raises for employees, flat operating expenses, and important investments in asset preservation and carbon neutrality. In addition, the Board approved the president’s recommendation to promote five faculty to full professor: Tobias Armborst, Eve Dunbar, Jenny Magnes, Laura Newman, Elliot Schreiber, and to re-appoint Marianne Begemann to the Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources for an additional 5-year term.

Admission numbers were reviewed in a discussion led by Dean Sonya Smith, who presented the early decision admits. Applications were up about 25% this year, with strong diversity by race/ethnicity, income, geography, and national origin.

The Board was briefed by Tim Kane on current success of development and the plans to rename the Office of Alumnae Affairs and Development (OAAD) as Advancement, as a signal of the office’s integration and contemporary approach to its work. Development is on target for the year, and a but head of last year at this time in the annual fund.

The Board also was briefed by Marianne Begemann on current building projects including the maintenance of and planning for new faculty housing, the Institute and Inn, Pratt House for Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practice, and the planned Admission and Career Education Center. The board approved the long-term preservation of Alumnae Lawn as part of the Institute and Inn project and approved the hiring and planning with MaryAnn Thompson architects for the planning of the Admission and Career Education Center on the north side of campus.

The Board discussed efforts in racial justice, noting they will be working on identifying Board practices that could be made more inclusive, and President Bradley briefed the Board on the efforts being made at the College this semester as part of the larger, ongoing efforts to improve racial equity—including the hiring of five tenure-track faculty whose scholarship is in the area of race and racial justice, the establishment of the endowed Olive Thurman Fund to be housed in Africana Studies and to be used to support efforts to address institutional racism, new human resource practices to enhance diversity and inclusion, and support for examination of the Vassar’s history and archives in ways that shed light on Vassar’s history related to race and racial justice.