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The Scarlet & Black

Trustees meet to discuss building renovations and policy clarification

Members of the Board of Trustees will be convening for their final meeting this semester. Photo by John Brady.

Grinnell’s Board of Trustees will convene for the third and final time this year from Thursday, May 1 through Saturday, May 3. They will discuss the proposed renovation of the Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) and Carnegie Hall, the confirmation of incoming Alumni Council President Susan Henken-Thielen ’80 and the amendment of passages concerning Student Educational Policy Committees (SEPCs) in the Faculty Handbook. 

President Raynard Kington will be among those leading the proposal for the renovation of ARH and Carnegie, which came after consultants deemed Grinnell’s social sciences buildings as highly lacking in some aspects for a comfortable learning experience and better learning space.

Board members will also be presented for re-election, as each term lasts four years. However, candidates before the Board are to remain confidential before votes are cast, so the outcomes will be published after the weekend.

Key changes currently pending review are a series of revisions being proposed that will update the Faculty Handbook. These revisions would reflect changes made in the College’s structure to reassess the role of students on faculty reviews.

“We offer a number of concentrations now, outside of the academic department structure. But the SEPCs are department-based,” wrote Vice President for Communications Jim Reische in an email to the S&B. “[F]aculty have asked for a discussion of whether SEPCs are the right groups to review faculty who are based in concentrations, or who otherwise do their work outside the departments.” 

In addition, the Board will be looking at a number of proposed revisions regarding changes in the language used concerning various SEPCs in the Handbook. 

A trustee and student discuss topics of interest during a meet and greet in the JRC. Photo by John Brady.
A trustee and student discuss topics of interest during a meet and greet in the JRC.
Photo by John Brady.

“The current Faculty Handbook points readers to the Student Handbook for information on SEPCs, but the Student Handbook no longer provides that information,” Reische clarified. “So the passages in question simply need to be revised, which requires Board approval.” 

This includes some small clarifications, such as the need to recognize certain changes that may be misleading or downright false.

“Similarly, the current Faculty Handbook claims that ‘SEPC members serve as elected representatives [of majors]’ … That language needs to be amended just to recognize that not all SEPCs are elected,” Reische explained.

The Board will also nominate Henken-Thielen  as Alumni Council president, and she will succeed Nancy S. Maly ’61 in that role after Grinnell’s Reunions. Henken-Thielen graduated from Grinnell with a degree in Psychology and has served as an active Alumni Council member for six years.

“As the incoming President, I am the main liaison to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on behalf of the Alumni Council. I will work with the administration to plan and lead our two semi-annual meetings,” Henken-Thielen wrote in an email to the S&B. “I will also head the Executive Committee which meets monthly to review our four standing committees’ progress against goals.”

Henken-Thielen will also work towards recognizing the efforts of the Alumni Council in improving alumni connections. This goes in hand with an ongoing effort from the College in regards to funding and assistance to support the desire to remain need-blind.

“The members of Council dedicate a lot of time and energy to helping and improving Alumni connections,” Henken-Thielen wrote. “[I]t’s important that they feel that their time has meaning and impact for the College.”

The Board will also hear brief presentations from each of the nine Board subcommittees and will vote on any proposed motions from these subcommittees. The controversial issue of the need-blind policy will not be on the agenda as a separate item, but there will be mention of it. 

The Board will decide by the fall of 2015 whether or not the College is making sufficient progress towards fundraising and tuition-revenue goals. If the results are determined to be inadequate, the Board has the option of steering the College on a more aggressive enrollment strategy or to end need-blind policies effective with the class of 2021.  

Members of the Board of Trustees will be convening for their final meeting this semester. Photo by John Brady.
Members of the Board of Trustees will be convening for their final meeting this semester.
Photo by John Brady.

“The President, Treasurer and Chief Investment Officer provide routine analyses of our financials, including our balance sheet and revenue outlook,” Reische wrote. “[I]n May the VP for Admission will summarize applicant yield and expectations about net student revenue and discount rate. This will all feed into the Board’s Fall 2015 discussion, but there’s no specific motion or action item on the agenda related to need-blind at the May meeting.”   

Among other things, the Board will also honor student finalists and winners of various fellowships and prizes, hear about the recent PioneerWeekend event hosted by AppDev as well as reports from SGA current and upcoming executive cabinets. 

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