Trustees gather on campus for annual spring meetings

by Amanda Larkins

The Whitworth trustees were on campus last week, having committee meetings Wednesday, April 9 and Thursday April 10 before holding two Committees of Trustees meetings Thursday and Friday. A highlight of the week came Thursday afternoon when trustee Dave Myers ‘64 and his wife Carol Myers ‘65 donated $1.5 million for an endowed professorship for the College of Arts and Sciences.

During Committee on Trustees sessions held Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, reports from the various committees were presented. During the Friday session, the trustee chair responsibilities transitioned from Walt Oliver to Jason Thackston. Oliver served as chair since 2008.

The meeting devotion Thursday was given by Whitworth professor of education Betty Williams, who is set to retire at the end of the year. Whitworth senior Dustin McConnell gave the devotion Friday.

There was also a formal announcement of new trustee members, Travis Downs and Phil Eaton.

The Institutional Advancement Committee has been working on staying connected with alumni, currents students, prospective students and other benefactors of the university, trustee Chuck Boppell said.

University Communications has increased the amount of interface with alumni and potential students through social media and other mediums of communication throughout the academic year, Boppell said.

The Whitworth ambassador program was created, connecting current students with alumni in the hope of reconnecting them with the university, Boppell said. An extensive number of interviews are conducted with alumni for the program.

Trustee Gary Hopkins presented for the Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee. He reported about a facilities assessment plan, which is a way to assess the life span and state of facilities around campus. The state of facilities is doing well overall, Hopkins said.

There will be a digging project this summer, to improve electrical and steam systems underground. The project will start after the school years ends and completed before the fall semester.

Hopkins also spoke about the music building improvement project, which was going to be a $25 million project, has been reduced to $12 million after realizing that the project was not attainable, Hopkins said. An important feature piece of the original plan was a 700-seat concert hall, which will no longer be included. However, by eliminating the concert hall, the repurposed money can fund improvements that were previously sacrificed in favor of the concert hall.

The Academic Affairs Committee report shared about working toward a more sustainable financial system, including exploration of other options for the Costa Rica Center. Whitworth has reached a 95 percent student retention rate, Dave Myers said. The Masters in Teaching program has also seen success in through its increased enrollment, he said.

The board also approved tweaks to the faculty handbook, which included an intellectual property policy and a mini-sabbatical program. The intellectual property policy states that there is monetary attachment if a staff member of the university invents something the university will receive a percent of the money from the product sales, Meyer said.

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