Summary of Special Session

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					                             Summary of Special Session
                      2009 Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees
                                      April 20, 2009
                              The University of the South
                                   Sewanee, Tennessee


First Plenary Session, April 20th, 9:00 a.m. Convocation Hall.

        In response to the Vice Chancellor‟s winter announcement of his intended retirement at
the end of the 2010 school year, the Chancellor summoned the Board of Trustees into special
session in Sewanee on April 20th, 2009. A search committee having been appointed by the
Chancellor, it was the purpose of this special session of the Board of Trustees to meet in an
extended workshop setting with members of the Search Committee along with consultants from
the firm of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates so that Trustees could engage in a discussion of what
would be desirable skills and characteristics in the next Vice Chancellor of the University.
Pursuant to this end, approximately sixty Trustees, Regents, and members of the Search
Committee assembled in Convocation Hall on Monday, April 20th. Since this was a special
called meeting and not a regular Annual meeting and since there was no stated agenda for
official business, a quorum was considered moot and the Secretary did not resolve the roll by
orders. (The roll of the meeting was taken, however, and is attached.) Several bishops and many
clergy and lay Trustees were present. The Board was led in an abbreviated service of Morning
Prayer by The Rev. Annwn Myers, Associate University Chaplain. The prayers and readings
were proper to the day.

        At the conclusion of Morning Prayer, the Chancellor welcomed the gathered Trustees,
members of the Board of Regents, and the members of the Search Committee. He noted that the
Board of Trustees needed to “take thought and counsel” in its search for the next Vice
Chancellor and that it was the purpose of this meeting to begin that process. He also noted that
not only would the Board of Trustees need to settle upon and elect the next Vice Chancellor
during the year ahead but that we would also have to find an appropriate way to thank Joel and
Trudy Cunningham for their service to Sewanee. The Chancellor set out the simple order of the
day that would be followed.

       The Chancellor stated that the task for this day was to think together about our hopes and
dreams for Sewanee and about the qualities we should seek in the next Vice Chancellor. He
noted that there would be no official reports, no committee business, and no decisions to be
voted upon at this meeting. No official agenda was approved, but the Chancellor and Secretary
worked from an extended outline of topics, sessions, and speakers that would be called upon in
the course of the day. He invited Trustees to be fully engaged and not to hold back their
thoughts and to bring their love, imagination, and wisdom to the task before us.
        At this point, the Chancellor introduced Vice Chancellor Joel Cunningham for a few
comments on the state of the University. The Vice Chancellor reminded us that he had been
elected by the Board of Trustees on the Feast of the Epiphany in 2000 and had felt at that time a
sense of calling to come to Sewanee as Vice Chancellor. Looking ahead, he said that he planned
to be on sabbatical leave from Sewanee during the 2010-11 school year and then to come back to
Sewanee and return to his first career in teaching. In the meantime, he said, he would “work as
hard as I can to prepare for a new Vice Chancellor.”

        Vice Chancellor Cunningham took a few minutes to review several items in the life of the
University. He began by noting the death of Elizabeth Rogers, C„09, who had died suddenly and
commended to Trustees the letter to the Purple about Sewanee‟s response to this tragic event
written by Regent Alice Chenault. [This letter is attached to this summary.] He reviewed the
services of Holy Week, including the experience of being in All Saints‟ Chapel on Good Friday
during a tornado warning. He gave a brief report on the health of Tom Macfie, University
Chaplain, and spoke with high praise of the recent performance of the Canterbury Cathedral
Choir in All Saints‟. He mentioned the one-day visit of T. Boone Pickens, accompanied by
Sewanee graduate and NPR radio commentator David Johnson. Mr. Johnson‟s dialogue with
Mr. Pickens had created much interest among Sewanee students and many non-University guests
as Mr. Pickens set out his plan to wean the United States from its dependence on imported oil
products.

        The Vice Chancellor stated that he had found words of hope for rough times in the songs
presented by the Canterbury Choir, noting that one of the songs referred to “raging waves and
cross currents” that seem to characterize the present economic difficulties facing the country and
the University. He reported that as of March 31, 2009, the value of our endowment had dropped
from $315 million to $235 million and that the donations to the Annual Fund, reflecting the hard
times experienced by many alums, were down about ten percent. He found a basis for optimism
in the fact that student enrollment was at an all-time high, but indicated some concern about the
size of the Class of 2013 which would be enrolling in August. Acceptances were down about
five percent as of mid-April. He indicated that the Board of Regents would decide in May
whether to go ahead with projects like the expansion of Snowden Hall and the renovations
planned for other buildings. In mentioning staff and faculty appointments, he expressed the
caution that, “If this present recession is like 1930, we may be back to the “genteel poverty” that
characterized much of the University‟s early history.” He concluded by saying to Trustees,
“Bless you and thank you. Guard well the treasure that is Sewanee.” The Vice Chancellor‟s
remarks were received with much applause.

                              *      *       *       *      *       *

        At this point the Chancellor set out the plan for the day and described the beginning of
the search process that had unfolded when the Vice Chancellor decided to announce his
retirement. Chancellor Parsley noted that the Vice Chancellor was elected directly by the Board
of Trustees and that this election needed to be made no later than April of 2010. The Chancellor
then introduced Mr. Joel Smith, C„67, Chair of the Search Committee.

        Joel Smith summarized the process the Committee would follow in organizing itself for
work, in developing a job description, advertising the position and soliciting names, in evaluating
candidates, and in presenting a final name to the Board of Trustees for approval. He emphasized
that the process would be transparent but that the content of the search--the identities of

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candidates--would be invisible and confidential. He stressed the need to maintain the
confidentiality of the candidates who might be applying without the knowledge of their present
institution. Mr. Smith recognized Teresa Smith who had been appointed by the University to
manage the clerical details of the Committee‟s work and he introduced the members of the
Search Committee. [See attached list.] He also noted that there had already been a preliminary
collection of ideas via an email poll and that Provost Linda Lankewicz had prepared an executive
summary of this material. [“Executive Summary” is attached.] He reminded Trustees that
regular reports would be made of the committee‟s work and published on the University website.
Finally, Mr. Smith stated that it was important to have a professional consultant experienced in
conducting a national search and that the University had contracted the services of
Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, represented by Shelly Storbeck and Susan VanGilder. He
called upon Ms. Storbeck to describe the role of her firm in the search process.

        Ms. Storbeck began her presentation by suggesting that the search for a University
president was something like “looking for God on a good day.” She described the work of
Storbeck/Pimental in terms of the many searches they had been part of [a list of the firm‟s clients
was provided to Trustees in their packet of materials for this meeting.] They worked mostly with
private, liberal arts universities and colleges and said that about one half of their placements were
women or persons of color. In this context she noted that other schools were also currently
seeking presidents among them Williams College, Mt. Holyoke, and Colby College. She said
that her firm‟s task was to recruit the field of candidates for the Search Committee to consider.
Typical searches required about four to nine months to complete and Ms. Storbeck explained this
long process in terms of the consultative nature of presidential searches. Search committees
work by consensus and it takes time to find good candidates and to come to a consensus about
one of them.

        She noted that the search would involve several stages. The first stage involved
preparation and consultation with the institution. The second phase was direct recruitment of
candidates and that much of this phase involved phone contacts conducted by her. The third
stage begins to see more committee involvement as the committee begins to evaluate and
interview the candidates at sites away from Sewanee. The fourth and final phase involves the
selection of a candidate and visits of the candidate to Sewanee, with the goal of announcing a
final candidate no later than the early spring of 2010.

        In response to Ms.Storbeck‟s presentation several Trustees asked questions or made
comments. One inquired whether, since there were simultaneous searches going on, her firm
might be representing the same candidate for more than one job. Ms. Storbeck‟s reply was that
this was unlikely since the school with which there might be a conflict, Colgate, was already into
their search process and would likely make their decision before we could make ours. The
Chancellor commented that the Search Committee welcomed the recommendation of candidates
by Trustees and he invited Trustees to be active participants in bringing names to the Search
Committee. Another Trustee urged upon Trustees the need for them to own the search process
and he expressed his hope that the focus of the meeting would be upon how the Board of
Trustees could stay in the process. This Trustee felt that the work of the Board of Trustees was
hampered by the inability of Trustees to communicate among themselves and by the absence of a
University website for the use of the Board of Trustees.

       After these comments, Joel Smith described the “Breakout Groups” and how the
discussions would take place. Prior to this special meeting, the consulting firm and the search

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committee had determined upon the use of three questions to put before Trustees in their
discussion, or breakout, groups. These questions, included with the materials sent to Trustees
prior to the meeting, were:
        1. Describe Sewanee today--
                a. What would interest someone in becoming the Vice Chancellor?
                b. What challenges would he or she face in the role?
        2. How would you like to the University develop in the next 7-10 years under this
                person’s leadership?
        3. Based on your responses to 1 & 2, what kind of person are we looking for in terms of
                personal qualities and professional qualifications?

        In preparation for the meeting, the Trustees indicating their attendance had been divided
into groups of approximately eight persons and each of these groups was assigned an observer
from the Search Committee. Each discussion group was given a meeting place around campus
and box lunches were served at several points convenient to the discussion groups. After the
discussions had taken place and comments recorded on newsprint posters, the summary
comments of each group were posted on the walls of Convocation Hall. Time was then set aside
after lunch for what was referred to as the “Walkabout”--a period when Trustees would re-
assemble in Convocation Hall and would be free to walk about and note the comments made by
other discussion groups. Once the Walkabout was finished, the Chancellor called the Board back
into order for a Second Plenary Session for the purpose of having a general and open discussion
based upon the posted comments and the three given questions.

                         *      *       *      *       *      *       *

Second Plenary Session, April 20th, 2:45 p.m. Convocation Hall.

       The Chancellor called the Second Plenary Session to order and thanked Trustees for their
work in the small groups. At this point, Joel Smith, assisted by Shelly Storbeck and Teresa
Smith who took notes and kept track of listing the variety of responses from each group to the
questions, resumed the floor. The purpose of this was an effort at “Discerning Common
Themes” among the many ideas produced in the discussion groups. As these themes were
summarized and commented upon by Trustees, the general points were listed and projected from
a computer screen so that they could be seen by all and so that modifications could easily be
made to the list.

Question #1
        In response to Question #1--”Describe Sewanee Today”--the following general points
were listed:
        --The uniqueness and importance of Sewanee as a place
        --The presence of and role of the Episcopal Church in the life of the University
        --The environment of the Domain and the role of ecology in the University program
        --The fiscal condition of the University
        --The academic reputation of the University
        --The importance of the liberal arts and the emphasis upon teaching
        --The presence of and role of the School of Theology in the University
        --The presence, influence, and appreciation of traditions in the University.



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        Once these themes were listed, a wide range of comments, questions, and replies were
made. One person asked what the term “cultural integrity” meant in describing the University.
Another commented that the core curriculum should be recognized as central to the liberal arts.
As the discussion evolved, a sub-set of Question #1 was stated as, “What challenges does
Sewanee face?” By common agreement in the discussion these challenges were understood to be
specific concerns for the next Vice Chancellor to address. Among those suggested were these:
        --Alcohol and substance abuse on campus
        --The decline in the national ranking of the University and the effect upon outside
               perception of our reputation
        --The need to increase the endowment to a level commensurate with our program and
               goals
        --The high cost of a Sewanee education and the issue of affordability
        --Faculty salaries and compensation and the specific difficulty of employment for
               spouses
        --The need to make the University more diverse (and it was noted that this was related to
               the issue of affordability)
        --The need to re-invigorate alumni in terms of support of the University
        --The geographic location of the University and its isolation were noted
        --The need to make better use of the land and resources of the Domain as part of the total
               picture of the University
        --The role of the Vice Chancellor as the mayor of the town of Sewanee.

Question #2
        Joel Smith then shifted the attention of the meeting to Question #2, “How would you like
for the University to develop in the next 7-10 years under this person‟s leadership?” As with the
first question, the comments were wide-ranging and many secondary comments were made as
each point was noted. The common themes noted for Question #2 were:
        --Environmental sustainability and the need to make more use of the Domain for
                 academic work
        --The need to grow the endowment substantially and provide for faculty compensation
        --Related to this point a separate point noted Sewanee‟s traditionally small class size and
                 the need to preserve this feature of our education
        --The need to strengthen the relationship between the College of Arts and Sciences and
                 the School of Theology
        --The issue of the reputation, ranking, and perception of the University, and specifically
                 the need for national visibility and a concerted effort in external relations to
                 celebrate Sewanee‟s approach to the liberal arts
        --The need to improve the recognition of specific programs in the University
        --The need to improve the Admission profile of the College and to generate a larger pool
                 of applicants
        --The issue of sustainability needs to be addressed along with making use of the Domain
                 in environmental education: “We must operate the University in an
                 environmentally sustainable fashion.”
        --As a variant of the relation between the College and the School of Theology, the need
                 to sustain relations with the St. Andrew‟s-Sewanee School.
        --The need to make better use of the physical plant in the summer months to help with
                 recruitment; that is, to use our buildings to hold programs focused upon attracting
                 prospective students to Sewanee.


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A Moment of Celebration

        In the midst of the tallying of these comments, Jon Meacham approached the podium and
whispered to the Chancellor. As Mr. Meacham returned to his seat, the Chancellor announced
that word had just arrived from New York that Jon Meacham had been awarded a Pulitzer Prize
for his most recent book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. A great round of
applause greeted this news.

Second Plenary Session, continued, Question #3

        The attention of the meeting now turned to the question, “Based on your responses to 1 &
2, what kind of person are we looking for in terms of personal qualities and professional
qualifications?” These common themes emerged about this question:
        --The need for a visionary leader who can tell the Sewanee story
        --Someone who recognizes the “whole issue of the Church” and its relation to Sewanee
               and who appreciates this relationship
        --A Vice Chancellor who embraces the Christian faith
        --Someone who understands the “core values” of Sewanee
        --A person who possesses leadership skills that are both academic and fiscal
        --Someone who appreciates Sewanee‟s uniqueness
        --Someone with a proven record
        --A person who is accessible to students, faculty, and staff
        --A person who is comfortable in relating to the town of Sewanee
        --Someone who has diplomatic skills and who is a “demonstrably secure” person
        --A person committed to public service
        --Someone aware of the global in culture, environment, education, and politics

         Once these points had been listed, many secondary and interrelated comments were made
and a number of specific questions were raised about how the search process would proceed. A
fair summary of this diverse discussion is given here. Joel Smith noted that a familiar question
for all search committees was whether to chose an academic (traditional) leader or a non-
academic (non-traditional) leader, and in the case of the University the related question of
whether to select a Sewanee person or someone from outside the University family. In response
to Mr. Smith, a number of comments were made suggesting that the distinctions in these
questions made artificial disjunctions and that the best candidate should be a successful fund
raiser, be comfortable and conversant with the town, be a good listener, and someone who loves
students.

         In looking ahead in the search process Mr. Smith stated that there would be a “check in”
during July with the Search Committee on the list of candidates in hand to that point. He went
on to state that each of the last three Vice Chancellors had come into the office with the
University facing one or another serious problems, but that the present condition of the
University was generally sound, buildings were in good condition, and that the University was in
good shape in going into this search. The challenge, he noted, was to find a leader to “take us to
the next level.” He asked for Trustee comment on what this idea implied for them and meant to
them as a Board of Trustees. One person commented in reply to this that University focus upon
the Domain environment and environmental issues could be the vehicle for taking the University
to the “next level,” and “This can be the key to boost us [to that level].” A comment was made
at this point noting that there was no scientist on the Search Committee.

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         In other comments, a Trustee noted that we needed a Vice Chancellor who had a vision
for Sewanee and that there was a concern that our peer schools were ahead of us. Here some one
asked, “Are we actually as good as we think?” A reply from another Trustee to this question
stated, “We do have a challenge before us. We are a good regional institution, but not a national
institution. The next Vice Chancellor must lead us to national recognition.” A phrase from one
of the discussion groups—“Top 25 in 5 Years”--was cited here as a focus of this concern.
Another said that the next Vice Chancellor must “tell this country what we have [at Sewanee].”
Someone else said, “We must be Sewanee. We are who we are.” It was noted that this meant
that a Sewanee education focused on the whole person, not just one aspect of a person.

         There were some specific queries about the details of the search: Would Sewanee be in a
situation where we were competing for someone who was also in the search process at another
institution? Shelly Storbeck replied that they would not take client candidates who were in
competition at another school. Joel Smith said that the search process would be examined in
detail over the next two days as the Search Committee met with the consultants and that the
Committee would make a wide solicitation of input. In response to a question about interim
reports to the Board of Trustees, it was noted that interim reports would be made and that a
summary of the common themes and comments would be provided to Trustees. It was also
noted that Trustees could exercise their fiduciary responsibility as Trustees if they got
information in a more timely format, and several Trustees commented upon the need to get a
web page established for the Board of Trustees. It was noted that the process of producing a web
page had been protracted and that there had been many delays. Linda Lankewicz spoke for the
administration and stated that the Executive Staff had recently discussed this problem and she
assured Trustees that the University was “close” to having the web page for Trustees created and
online. The Secretary stated that much of the administrative effort had been directed towards
finding the software for and building a “content management system” for handling confidential
Trustee documents instead of an emphasis on creating the web page. Other comments made note
that the presentation of the University ought to make reference to the great University Choir, that
there was an essential southernness to the University that had to be recognized, and that there
was a need to recognize the distinction between the popular traditions of Sewanee and the actual
history of the institution.

        In his closing comments to the meeting, the Chancellor emphasized that the composition
of the Search Committee was intended to be representative of the many constituencies in the life
of the University, that the election date for the next Vice Chancellor would probably fall between
November and April but that Trustees needed to be flexible about their arrangements because,
once a candidate was selected, it would be necessary to make a timely election. He suggested
that the special meeting for electing the Vice Chancellor would probably be arranged in a
manner similar to the present special meeting and be set for a Monday to allow some of the
travel to fall across a weekend. He reminded Trustees that his own term as Chancellor would
end in October with the election of new Chancellor. Chancellor Parsley ended this special called
meeting with these words, “Be prayerful. We are an institution of the Church and we believe the
Holy Spirit works in these things.” Amen.

Respectfully submitted,

Gerald L. Smith, Secretary
May 21, 2009

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