Trustees meet, issue tribute

At its fall meeting, the Washington University Board of Trustees received a report by Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. Arvidson reviewed the research of his department in a talk titled “Geology, Habitability, and Life on Mars.”

Trustees issued a tribute to Trustee J. Stephen Fossett, for whom a search continues following the disappearance of his airplane over Nevada. The tribute, which will be shared with Fossett’s wife, Peggy, unanimously endorses the important role Fossett has played on the board and recognizes his support for the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration in Earth and Planetary Sciences and for undergraduate research fellowships in environmental sustainability for the Arts & Sciences Pathfinder Program. The Fossetts also endowed a distinguished professorship in marketing at the Olin Business School.

“In recognition of the important role he has played and we hope he will continue to play here at Washington University, the Board has expressed its lasting affection and deep gratitude to Steve Fossett for enriching our lives. We extend our admiration and deep concern to Peggy Fossett, who with Steve has been an enthusiastic, generous partner and ambassador of the University,” Wrighton said. (The full text of the resolution can be viewed online at

In his report to the Trustees, Wrighton noted that the school year has begun with an extraordinarily strong freshman class of approximately 1,340 students, nearly all of whom graduated within the top 10 percent of their high-school classes. The class represents 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 20 countries. Divided equally between male and female students, the class is approximately one-third minority and international students.

Wrighton reported that the McDonnell International Scholars Academy continues to grow and develop with the addition of partner universities from Chile, Brazil and Hungary, bringing the total to 23 institutions that will work with the University in this pioneering effort to serve and educate some of the world’s brightest and best students. Planned are visits to additional leading universities in Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia.

The chancellor reviewed progress on construction at both the Danforth and Medical Campuses as well as reviewing the University acquisition of the former Christian Brothers College High School property from Concordia Seminary. This 8.2-acre site contains eight buildings for which long-range plans are being studied. In the meantime, work will begin soon on renovating and improving the gymnasium and athletic fields for the use of intramural and club sports by undergraduate students.

Construction on the Social Sciences/Law building continues on schedule, as does work on the William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth University Center. Both Danforth Campus buildings are slated for occupancy in August 2008, and two floors of underground parking already are in use in the Danforth University Center garage. Also coming online at that time will be the Village East Residence Hall at the corner of Forest Park Parkway and Throop Drive. Wrighton noted that a naming gift will be announced soon for the Social Sciences/Law building.

Reviewing initiatives announced since the last Trustee meeting, Wrighton described the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES), in which the University will invest $55 million in renewable energy research and facilities. Under the directorship of Himadri B. Pakrasi, Ph.D., the George William and Irene Koechig Freiberg Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences and professor of energy in the School of Engineering, I-CARES will encourage University-wide and external collaborative research in the areas of renewable energy and sustainability.

At the Medical Campus, Wrighton announced that a groundbreaking will be held Oct. 30 for a basic research building as part of the BioMed 21 initiative. The building is a joint development effort with BJC Healthcare and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, with roughly half of the space to be dedicated to the patient-care mission of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The building will be supported by a significant naming gift to be announced at the event and will be the largest building constructed at the University in its history.

In other news, it was announced that 12 students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships for the 2007-08 academic year. The recipients will be studying in 10 different countries.

In closing his remarks, Wrighton noted that the football team was off to its best start since 2001 under Larry Kindbom, now entering his 19th season as head coach and as the winningest coach in University history with an overall record of 119-67.

Wrighton also reviewed the extraordinary success of the tennis, cross country, soccer and volleyball teams.

The Trustees received reports from the following standing committees: development, educational policy, University finance, medical finance, audit and the alumni board of governors.