President Sean Decatur described last week’s meeting of the Board of Trustees as “anticlimactic.” No major decisions are typically made during the fall meeting.
On the agenda for this meeting were discussions related to the Master Plan, financial aid, the College’s capital campaign and Title IX. The fall meeting is a time for the Board of Trustees to meet with senior staff to discuss long-term projects and goals for the College. Most major decisions on issues — such as the budget and student tuition — are made during the February or April meetings.
Only two votes were held, according to Decatur: one to promote Tim Spiekerman of the political science department to full professor, and one to approve designs for new buildings for the English department, as per the Master Plan. The budget for the new buildings will likely be around $4 million said Finance and Audit committee Joseph Lipscomb ’87 in a meeting with Collegian editors Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Board’s Budget, . Decatur said no budget or timeline for the construction of these new buildings has been approved yet.
No decision was made on the fate of Sunset Cottage. There will be “continued study” on the building, according to Decatur, with more discussions held at the April Board of Trustees meeting.
Though the demolition of Farr Hall and the the replacement of Olin and Chalmers Library have been slated as the next major Master Plan projects — the demolition of Farr Hall is scheduled for this summer — Decatur said there were no updates on these projects.
The board examined the College’s finances and held a conversation on divestment. Lipscomb said the Board’s investment committee met with Divest Kenyon, a new student group dedicated to encouraging Kenyon to divest its endowment from fossil fuel and private prison companies. Lipscomb is a co-founder and partner at Arborview Capital LLC, which invests in sustainable companies.
“We discussed divestment and the overarching question of how much we should align our investment strategy with our mission as an institution,” Lipscomb said. “I think it’s great that Divest Kenyon is interested in it.” Lipscomb confirmed that there will be continued discussions on educating students about Kenyon’s investments and aligning investments with sustainability goals. “We are really going to try to think more on our endowment,” he added, “how we can gear our investments toward sustainability.”
The Board meeting also covered financial aid and admissions demographics, as well as the College’s capital campaign. The campaign is still in the quiet phase, when the College plans goals for the campaign and seeks substantial gifts, Decatur said. He predicted the campaign will officially launch in 2018.
The Board will next convene in February in Washington, D.C. to pass the College’s annual budget for the College and determine financial issues, including how much tuition will increase.