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October 2016 board meeting recap

October 14, 2016 at 9:24 am
By Susan Kasten

The Beloit College board of trustees gathered for their fall meeting on campus from Oct. 6-8. 2016. Among the topics they discussed were the Powerhouse and strategic enrollment management. A student group also proposed a new program to board members, aimed at building connections and shared understanding between students and trustees.

Strategic enrollment management was discussed in several committee meetings over the weekend, and it will also be the topic of a board retreat in February. Strategic enrollment management is a planning process that helps shape and monitor the composition and size of the overall student body and is also concerned with the persistence of students in finishing their degrees. It considers the competitive marketplace Beloit operates within, and takes into account demographics and the academic quality of students in recruiting, as well as access, campus facilities, and revenue. The plan, expected to roll out this spring with the input of the board and the campus community, should be in place in time to impact the class of 2022, entering Beloit in the fall of 2018.

The Powerhouse project is gaining momentum on its way to being open for use by the fall of 2019. The board of trustees, the alumni board, and the 1889 Council—which supports Athletics—all unanimously pledged their financial support for the project. In fact, since the May board meeting, $7 million has been raised for the Powerhouse. The project is eligible for state and federal incentives that recognize the historic nature of the building, and those funds, which the board gave the green light to pursue, are substantial. These incentives will require some adaptations to the original design but are not expected to affect plans for the building’s functions.

The board participated in a presentation about increasing equity and inclusivity on campus and improving the overall sense of student belonging at Beloit. The board’s teaching and learning committee discussed the Mellon Inclusive Leadership Project, a three-year faculty and staff development project; the Peer Equity Mentoring Program that pairs underserved and underrepresented students with peer mentors; faculty/staff development sessions created around an asset-based approach to student learning and faculty development; and newly formed peer support groups.

A student group composed of Devin Anderson’18, Shruti Bakre’19, Marcus Hampton’18, Constance Lee’19, Emma Peterson’18, Josh Randolph’19, and Francesca Snow’19 proposed a new program to trustees who serve on the committee that shapes trustee membership. Called “A Day with an Everyday Beloiter,” the idea grew out of an Inclusive Living and Learning Task Force and is intended to increase transparency and understanding between students and the board by pairing selected board members with students to spend a half day on campus. The board enthusiastically embraced the proposal, which may have a trial run yet this fall prior to the spring board meeting.

The fall board meeting landed on the calendar just one month before the college goes through the final phase of accreditation, a periodic process conducted by the Higher Learning Commission and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Beloit will host a campus visit from an external team of regional reviewers on Nov. 14-15.

The full board received an update on accreditation and Beloit’s readiness to undergo the process for the first time since 2006-07.

The next board meeting is scheduled to take place off-campus in February.