Trustees hear report on endowment, investments

At its spring meeting, the Board of Trustees received reports on the endowment, investments and budgets for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Reports also were delivered by the undergraduate and graduate student representatives.

In his remarks to the board, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton reviewed a number of extraordinary accomplishments over the past few months, including a new partnership between the University and the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The new program will involve joint programs, including internships, lectures and other educational activities as well as an agreement under which the Olin Business School will lead management of the Brookings’ executive education programs.

Wrighton noted that the largest research award in the history of the Danforth Campus was made April 27 — a $20 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to do research on plant-based, novel energy initiatives.

Similarly, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will receive a $15 million award, creating two new Energy Frontier Research Centers in the St. Louis area supported by $35 million in funding over the next five years. Researchers from the University and the Danforth Center will be working on both projects.

The chancellor also said that a $5.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will fund study of childhood malnutrition at the School of Medicine, focusing on severely malnourished infants living in Malawi and Bangladesh.

He reported on the first live Web broadcast to the University community as part of a “State of the University” forum to discuss the University’s current and future financial circumstances.

On April 17, David Kemper, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Wrighton hosted the dedication of the Danforth University Center attended by a large audience of alumni, students, faculty, trustees and friends. Participants also included William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus; Robert L. Virgil, Ph.D., trustee emeritus; and Ann Rubenstein Tisch, trustee.

Wrighton indicated that the biomedical research building — the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University — is scheduled for completion in December 2009. Laboratory fit-out has begun on the upper floors and will be completed after the building’s core and shell are completed for this LEED-certified project.

Construction continues on Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall, with completion expected in 2010. Opening next fall will be yet another LEED-certified “green” residential and dining complex on the South 40. Renovation of one of the University’s oldest buildings — Busch Hall — will be completed in time for summer move-in.

Wrighton praised the varsity athletics program for winning nine University Athletic Association championships during the 2008-09 year, including a second consecutive national championship for men’s basketball and a No. 2 finish for women’s basketball.

Reviews of the past year were presented by undergraduate student representatives senior Kavya Reddy Naini in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and junior Kira M. Sargent in Arts & Sciences.

Speaking on behalf of graduate students were Timothy J. Bono in psychology in Arts & Sciences and Tracy Nicholson in molecular microbiology in Arts & Sciences.

Four new student representatives also were named to the board.

Undergraduate representatives are junior Kaitlin McFadden in Arts & Sciences and junior Danielle Porter in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. The new graduate student representatives are Brooke Curtiss, a dual-degree candidate in law and social work, and Erik Shumaker in psychology.

Trustees received reports from the following standing committees: nominating and governance, compensation, development, educational policy, honorary degrees, medical finance, University finance, audit and the alumni board of governors.

The trustees also observed a moment of silence and passed a memorial resolution in honor of trustee emeritus Benjamin F. Edwards III.