June 19, 2018
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This has been a challenging yet exciting time for the Colleges and for me. My decision to take the role of interim president was made because of my deep and abiding respect for all of you, for the community we have created and that I have seen flourish for 50 years, and for the possibilities ahead of us. I have spent the majority of the past weeks in conversation with hundreds of people connected to the Colleges as I’ve tried to parse through the changes that were made during the last year and those that were planned. I write with an update on the state of Hobart and William Smith and to provide an overview of the conclusions I have reached that I believe will allow us to continue to advance the Colleges as we search for the next president.
Admissions and Retention
As you know, earlier this spring Bob Murphy announced his intention to retire from the Colleges and we asked John Young to serve as the dean of admissions and interim vice president for enrollment management. John has a great group of dedicated admissions professionals who are working hard to ensure that we are attracting and enrolling exceptional students. As of today, the Classes of 2022 include 640 students (300 Hobart and 340 William Smith) hailing from 33 states and 13 nations. They are academically impressive with an average high school GPA of 3.43 and an average SAT score of 1294, both slight improvements over last year. Most notably, 24.3% identify as multicultural, the largest group of multicultural students we have ever enrolled.
Whether or not those students succeed once they are on campus is a matter of concern to everyone. Last year, Professor Emeritus of Economics Jo Beth Mertens was hired to look at the kinds of data the Colleges collect about student success that could inform decision-making in relation to retention. The goal is to understand the characteristics of students who succeed at HWS, tailor our recruitment efforts to attract students who have those traits, and create intervention tactics that will increase persistence. This is difficult work made more challenging by the complexity and wide variety of data collected across campus. Initial predictive analyses are already having an impact as we recruit the Classes of 2023. On Tuesday, June 19, there will be a retention workshop on campus organized by Professor Mertens. We intend to make this workshop the first of targeted efforts to introduce and demonstrate the potential of retention efforts to enhance student success at HWS. There is more to come on this work but it is among the most interesting developments I’ve seen at the Colleges and I’m greatly encouraged by the initial results and the collaboration of everyone involved.
Chief Diversity Officer
In recognition of the centrality of a Chief Diversity Officer in the life of the Colleges, it is my intention to do a national search for the position. In the coming weeks, I will convene a selection committee comprised of faculty, staff, students and alums to oversee this critical selection with the hope that a new Chief Diversity Officer is in place as early as the Spring 2019 semester. In the interim, I have asked the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Social Justice to serve as an advising board to me for the fall semester as we begin implementation of some of the recommendations of the Strategic Diversity Plan. The Office of Intercultural Affairs is also convening a panel of students who will meet bi-weekly with me so that we do not lose traction on initiatives during the search process.
President Vincent’s departure halted fundraising for a six-week period at a critical moment in our advancement cycle. Despite this, our overall commitments to the Colleges during the 2017-2018 fiscal year were up 17% from the year before with total giving just over $16.9M. As our colleagues in advancement continue to build trust within our alumni, alumnae and parent cohorts, we expect that the overall participation rate of alums will remain steady. That’s a number we’d obviously like to see increase but this is challenging work in the wake of a major leadership change like we saw this spring.
As you know, a significant commitment of $4M from the Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68, L.H.D. ’18 is supporting the development of our entrepreneurial studies programs as well as scholarships for first-generation students. Another concentration of philanthropy this year was the new indoor turf field that will be constructed adjacent to Bristol Field House. One of the recommendations of the Culture of Respect report, which was co-authored by myself and Mara O’Laughlin ’66, L.H.D.’13, was to increase opportunities for students to participate in wellness activities, club sports and “pick-up” games of all sorts at the Bristol Field House. The biggest obstacle was facilities. The new indoor turf field solves this problem, providing space for intramurals, club sports, camps and clinics, as well as practice space for lacrosse, soccer, football and field hockey. This project was funded 100% through donations and is scheduled for completion by January, 2019.
I am pleased to report that through the leadership of Vice President for Finance Carolee White and the hard work of many, we have balanced the budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year and presented a balanced budget to the Board of Trustees for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This was not an easy process and it has required that we make some difficult decisions for the upcoming year including reducing expenses in some areas so that we can reallocate resources to those areas and initiatives that most closely align with our mission – to prepare students to lead lives of consequence. Senior staff members are in discussions now and details on the implications will be available later this summer. The 2018-2019 budget, which was passed by the Board of Trustees on June 13, includes the faculty step increase and its equivalent on the staff side of a 1.7% salary increase.
The William Smith Dean, Lisa Kaenzig P’22, now has two assistants, Lisa Salter and Kelly Payne. The Hobart Dean’s search and the searches for both Assistant Deans are ongoing with completion hopefully before the first week of July. The Hobart Dean and the William Smith Dean will report to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty.
The Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs
Academic Affairs Dean Nan Arens is going back to the faculty at the end of June, 2018 (the Geoscience Department). Provost DeWayne Lucas will continue as Provost and Dean of the Faculty and will be joined by two Associate Provosts – Professor David Galloway of the Russian and Russian Studies Department and Professor Joe Rusinko of the Mathematics Department. Associate Provosts Galloway and Ruskino will reside in the Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs in Coxe Hall along with Provost Lucas. Provost Lucas will be Provost for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years. A search for the Provost and Dean of the Faculty will take place in 2019-20 under the new President.
Patrick A. McGuire