University president, Ron Liebowitz, wrote an update to community members about the highlights from the October Board of Trustees Meeting, according to an email sent by the president on Oct. 15. Updates were given regarding the university’s commitment to the Anti-Racism Plan and the university’s commitment to increasing sustainability on campus.
“Throughout the meetings, members of the Board participated in a variety of thought-provoking and productive sessions and discussions. I remain grateful for their engagement, and I look forward to their continued partnership in our shared work of advancing the mission of our university.,” wrote Liebowtiz.
David Fryson, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, has been working with Liebowitz to review the feedback portion of the Anti-Racism Plan, according to the email. The processing of reviewing and revising the plan is continuing, according to Liebowitz, and various departments across campus are working on the revision of their plans based on the feedback they received. The revised plans should be shared with community members later this fall, according to the email.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee also discussed in the meeting the matter of finding a permanent Chief Diversity Officer, a role which Fryson is currently filling. According to the email, “a search committee has been established and listening sessions with faculty, staff and students have begun to help the committee receive input and feedback on the position”
The board unanimously voted during the meeting to advance the university’s commitment to sustainability. This came after Liebowitz released a statement regarding the university’s continuation of deepening sustainability on campus, according to an email sent by Liebowitz on Oct. 6. The university intended to build on previously successful initiatives in regards to sustainability, including altering the fossil fuel investment policy of the university which was proposed back in 2018, according to a letter from the Office of the Provost from Nov. 2018.
According to the email, the university will work on its sustainability goals to, “distinguish Brandeis as a leader when it comes to combating climate change.”
The Board heard from the Student Life Committee who spoke with Lauren Haynie, Director of Athletics, in regards to more programs and resources being launched for varsity athletes, club and intramural sports participants as well as the entire student body, according to the email.
“The committee discussed strategies for developing greater community engagement with Brandeis Athletics, better supporting the specific needs of student-athletes and encouraging students to utilize athletic and wellness programs,” wrote Liebowitz.
The Student Life Committee also connected with Shelby Harris, Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Campus Life, to discuss goals for “enhancing the advising of student club leaders, facilitating university-wide programming, and generating vibrant campus life through building new traditions, alumni engagement, and high-impact in-person programming,” according to the email.
The Department of Public Safety provided an update to the Risk Management and Audit Committee regarding campus engagement and the Reimagining Public Safety Initiative, according to the email.
The Board’s Institutional Advancement Committee gave an overview of the, “FY21 year-end results, FY22 goals, and fundraising progress to date”, according to the email. Liebowitz noted that fundraising results for the first quarter— July 1 through Sep. 30— are ahead of last year’s totals, though he noted that it is early in the fiscal year.
This committee also updated the board on the Alumni Relations Strategic Plan for FY22. This project will include initiatives like planning the university’s first-ever volunteer leadership convocation, preparing an analysis for Alumni weekend and ensuring alumni relations programming and clubs consider initiatives through a diverse, equitable and inclusive lens, according to the email.
Board members were given an update by Jen Walker, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, about enrollment trends for the undergraduate student body, graduate schools and professional school programs, according to the email. Board members also heard from Provost Carol Fierke about the profiles of the university’s faculty, including criteria of age distribution, recent hiring numbers, compensation trends and trends in BIPOC faculty recruitment.
The board gave their approval for two faculty members to be promoted in rank to professor with tenure, according to the email. Sara Shostak (SOC) and Suzanne Paradis (BIOL) both received the rank due to the “impact of their teaching and scholarship” wrote Liebowitz.
A Resources Committee Meeting was held where members discussed, “a report from Human Resources, which included information about return-to-campus trainings and various support services being offered to help employees transition back to on-campus work, as well as an update on key initiatives such as the creation of an Employee Benefits Advisory Council and Performance Management Committee,” according to the email.
The Nominating and Governance Committee updated Board members on the compliance within the board for the fiduciary training program, a required training that trustees must complete under a new Massachusetts law, according to the email.
Liebowitz noted in the email the university’s success with pandemic-related policies. According to the update 97 percent of on-campus community members are now vaccinated, the university also has maintained a low positivity rate, according to the email.
“It is my hope that with the continued cooperation of the community with our shared health and safety protocols, we will be able to maintain our success in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” wrote Liebowitz.
The Board of Trustees meeting was held virtually on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5, according to the email. The new Chair of the Board is Lisa Kranc ’75 and she led the meetings. Updates were given from the board’s Academy Committee, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Institutional Advancement Committee, Resources Committee, Meeting Risk Management and Audit Committee, Student Life Committee and the Nominating and Governance Committee.