A new format was implemented beginning with the January 2018 meetings, with the merging of the full Board meeting and the Committee of the Whole in an effort to make the meeting(s) more efficient and increase opportunities for discussion. A number of important issues were considered or reviewed in January, including campus capital projects, pace and quality of life, evolution of the admission process, a major fundraising prospectus, and the fiscal 2019 budget. Significant points of discussion are highlighted below:
- At a working dinner, Assistant Head Master and Dean of Faculty Chris Cunningham P’14 ’18 presented the results of a survey of students and faculty on the issue of pace and quality of life at School. While the students were seeking small, practical changes, such as a “free pass” for an extension on a major assignment once a term, faculty were looking for more sweeping changes, such as a transition to semesters or re-examination of the Wednesday/Saturday schedules.
- It was announced that a committee of faculty, coaches, administrators and trustees was in the process of hiring a construction manager and owner’s rep to oversee construction of the new athletic complex/dining center, as well as the expansion of the Gruss Center of Visual Arts. Discussion also focused on a phased approach to the athletic and dining facility to allow all students at least partial use of the existing field house during the four-year build-out.
- Trustees received an update on the Bowl construction, toured the Abbott renovation, and reviewed the expansion plan for the Gruss Center. Expansion of the program areas of Gruss will be performed in coordination with earlier plans to upgrade the building’s mechanicals and collections storage. Head Master Steve Murray H’55 ’65 ’16 P’16 ’21 announced the intention to hire a director for the expanded facility, to be called the Gruss Center for Art and Design, in advance of the redesign to ensure that programmatic needs will be met. Work is expected to begin during summer 2018 and continue through the following year.
- Dean of Enrollment Management Tom Sheppard discussed the national trend to incorporate traditional admission and financial aid offices under the umbrella of enrollment management, making the admission process a more strategic consideration of balancing the class and meeting institutional needs.
- A task force is examining measures to achieve long-term financial sustainability in the context of ensuring students of the same opportunities from one generation to the next regardless of economic conditions.
- The Board reviewed and approved the prospectus for a campaign feasibility study, which will assess the viability of plans for a major fundraising campaign.
- A presentation on the Big Red Farm led the discussion of more hands-on learning opportunities.
- College Counseling reported a major trend toward the colleges’ use of non-binding early action and binding early decision, resulting in a larger number of student deferrals. In conjunction with this trend, commitment dates are being moved up by less competitive schools.
- The Finance Committee reviewed and updated the fiscal 2018 forecast and endorsed the cornerstones of the fiscal 2019 budget. In addition, the Committee recommended approval of a campaign supplement to the budget and the next round of funding for the athletic and dining project. The Committee also highlighted the faculty housing shortage and the financial impact of rental properties. The Board approved the Committee’s recommended increases in faculty and staff salaries and accepted an 18% increase in health insurance costs.
- The Investment Committee reported that, as of January 31, 2018, Lawrenceville’s endowment stood at $470 million.
The spring Board meetings will be held on May 3-4.