October 2019 Board Meeting Summary

The Bates Board of Trustees was on campus for its fall meeting on October 24 through October 26, 2019. Each of the twelve Board committees met to discuss ongoing initiatives and college business and a number of topics were covered during plenary sessions. The October meeting was the first at which John Gillespie ’80, P’13, P’18 presided as chair. The Board also welcomed its two newest members, Erica Bullard ’90 and Katie Frekko ’95.

The following is a summary of issues considered by the Board, business conducted, and opportunities that trustees had to meet with various members of the campus community.

  • The Bates Campaign and Fundraising Strategy
    • There were several opportunities for a detailed discussion of the status of The Bates Campaign and strategies to ensure that the college is successful in reaching its $300 million goal by the end of the 2020–21 academic year. The Board continues to provide strategic guidance and financial support for this important effort.
    • Jason Patenaude ’91, the Executive Director of the Schuler Family Foundation, presented on philanthropy trends of the millennial generation, a subject of the Schuler Initiative, of which Bates is a part.
  • Budget & Finance
    • The Board received an update on the financial results for FY19 and a forecast of FY20 results, demonstrating the college’s ability to manage against strict revenue and expense targets.
    • Mayer Hoffman McCann, the college’s external auditor, presented its final report on the FY19 financial results—providing the institution with a clean bill of financial health—which were formally accepted by the Board.
    • The Board authorized the college to issue debt to provide bridge financing for the STEM Facilities Renewal Project’s current construction costs as well as project financing for infrastructure investments that are not supported by philanthropy.
  • Admission and Financial Aid
    • Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Leigh Weisenburger presented a report on the Bates Class of 2023, noting that this is the most diverse class in Bates’ history.
    • Leigh also presented a summary of legal issues and recent lawsuits elsewhere in higher education that are bringing scrutiny to college admissions practices.
  • Other Business
    • The 2020 Bates Morse Mountain Corporation representatives were approved: Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Geoffrey Swift and former Bates trustee Jeff Sturgis ’69.
    • The Board received a conflict of interest report from a subcommittee of the Audit and Legal Affairs Committee that observed that no conflicts were found between trustees, institutional officers, and key employees and their fiduciary duties owed to Bates.

Trustees also engaged with a number of campus constituencies during their time on campus, both formally and informally, including:

  • A dinner for faculty involved in standing governance committees and current governance initiatives, trustees, and senior staff to discuss shared governance.
  • A dinner for trustees and Bates Student Government leaders.
  • A meeting between Board leadership and the Committee on Faculty Governance.
  • A meeting of the Board’s reaccreditation sub-committee and faculty and staff reaccreditation leaders.
  • Various trustee committee meetings that included faculty, staff, and student representatives.
  • Committee on Faculty Governance representatives at the Board’s Saturday plenary session.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be an offsite retreat in Cambridge, MA, January 30–February 1, 2020, to establish Board goals and priorities for the next several years. The Board holds such retreats periodically. The next campus-based meeting of the Board will take place April 30–May 2, 2020.

Clayton Spencer

John Gillespie ’80, P’13, P’18
Chair of the Board of Trustees