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Trustees Approve $35.7 Million in Capital Improvements

Luis Prats

Luis Prats, Chair, Board of Trustees

Stetson University’s Board of Trustees approved more than $35.7 million in capital improvements at its meeting May 14 -15 at the College of Law campus in Gulfport. Most of the funding will be used for projects on the DeLand campus including a Welcome Center funded primarily through private donations, and significant renovation of the Carlton Union Building.

Led by Chair Luis Prats, the Stetson University Board of Trustees took action on several key issues affecting the university. Committees of the board reported on the following items.

Facilities

  • Discussed space-planning needs for additional faculty offices and an accessible classroom in Elizabeth Hall, and the desire to place Career and Professional Services in a more prominent location.
  • Approved the following facilities projects: Celebration, $180,000 for classroom renovations; College of Law, $4.6 million for various projects, including the repurposing of the first floor of the Dolly & Homer Hand Library; DeLand, projects totaling $31 million (including the Welcome Center and Carlton Union Building previously mentioned).

Finance

  • Reviewed the current year’s budget results and approved the 2015/16 fiscal year budget based on total revenues of $132,190, 000.

Investment

  • Heard reports on the performance of the university endowment which reached a market value of $203,250,543 on March 31, 2015.
  • Received information on the 403(b)/457(b) programs of the university. TIAA-CREF has been retained as the University’s platform and service provider with enhancements that should lower investment management fees.

Alumni and Fund Raising

  • Reported that $11,524,239 in cash and pledges had been secured in fiscal year 2015 with an additional $18 million in planned gifts.
  • Heard of $43 million in proposals that have been presented since July 1, 2015 and another $13.3 million that will be presented before the end of this fiscal year.
  • Reviewed Alumni and Engagement Office’s top three objectives in the coming year: expand district events; assure a well attended and successful homecoming; and develop alumni support for recruitment and career professional development areas.

Academic Affairs

  • Approved the “Conferral of Degrees” for all university graduates.
  • Noted recent faculty tenure and promotion
  • Listened to progress report on faculty compensation and bringing it in line with peer market norms. The gap continues to close in comparison with peer market norms. Staff will implement Phase V of the faculty compensation equity program in 2015-16.
  • Reviewed adjunct faculty compensation. Stetson is toward the top of regional market norms in per-course compensation.  The standard course unit compensation will be raised in 2015-16, while continuing some variability for competitive fields, and special expertise and credentials.
  • Heard reports on the launch of a nation-wide search for a Dean of the School of Business Administration.
  • Reviewed top risk areas affecting academic programs including market dynamics, strategic budget constraints, technology and I-4 road construction.
  • Discussed the new interdisciplinary Stetson University Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. Composed of faculty from nearly all colleges and schools at Stetson, the Institute is focused on educating students and the public while seeking to solve water and environmental challenges.

Enrollment and Marketing

  • Heard reports of undergraduate enrollment tracking ahead of last year. Total applications are at an all-time high at 11,363 as are deposits at 1035 versus 822 last year as of May 1. Graduate enrollment is mixed — strong in some areas and stable to down in others. Some is due to market dynamics and some to a different mix of programs being offered from last year (new programs being launched and others being “mothballed”). It is too early still to evaluate Graduate fall enrollment.
  • Reports of positive trends in a diminishing law school market were delivered by Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz .
  • Reviewed a three-month media tour report and the results of those visits to Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami.
  • Examined recent studies related to job opportunities for graduates of programs along the I-4 corridor and the competition among institutions in this market, especially graduate.

Student Affairs and Athletics

  • Surveyed concussion management protocols related to the annual concussion management report noting Stetson’s proactive stance on the issue.
  • Reviewed the NCAA APR metric measuring retention and academic performance of athletic teams.
  • Examined Stetson’s conference alignments within the context of the dynamic nature of affiliations nationwide.
  • Heard of the restructuring of the Student Government Association, Title IX compliance and Emergency Management team progress especially in light of a recent bomb scare.

The board observed a demonstration by Stetson University College of Law’s award-winning Trial Advocacy program, and heard and commented on a report from the President of the Faculty Senate regarding the faculty satisfaction survey on the DeLand campus.

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