Trustees meet, dedicate Brauer Hall

At its fall meeting Oct. 1, the Board of Trustees heard presentations by the dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and two engineering professors about the new Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The presentation, “Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall: Building the School of Tomorrow Today,” was given by Ralph S. Quatrano, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the Spencer T. Olin Professor; Frank Yin, MD, PhD, the Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Stifel & Quinette Jens Professor of Environmental Engineering Science and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering.

Following the meeting, trustees attended the opening session of the three-day “McDonnell International Scholars Academy Symposium: Global Energy Future,” which brought together presidents of premier international universities who are partners in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy to discuss global issues concerning energy and the environment.

The symposium built on the work of the National Research Council’s Committee on America’s Energy Future, for which Wrighton served as vice chair. Keynote speakers included Richard Meserve, PhD, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of the National Research Council’s Committee; Kristina M. Johnson, PhD, under secretary for energy at the United States Department of Energy; and Gary S. Calabrese, PhD, vice president for science and technology at Corning Inc.

Following the symposium’s opening session, Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall was dedicated. Brauer Hall is the new home to the university’s Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering. The Brauer Hall Dedication Gala took place the evening of Oct. 1, and John P. Holdren, PhD, President Barack Obama’s science adviser and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was the keynote speaker.

In his report to the Board of Trustees, Wrighton said that the fall 2010 freshman class of about 1,630 students seems to have settled in nicely during the first month of classes. On a variety of measures, he said this is the most academically talented group in university history and that they come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and 25 countries. He noted that the university experienced an increase in the number of African-American and Hispanic students in this freshman class and that nearly 40 percent are minority or international students.

Wrighton gave an update on construction projects on both the Danforth and Medical campuses, including the June 16 dedication of the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University, during which U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke in the Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza. The plaza of the new biomedical research building includes a reflecting pool designed by internationally renowned artist Maya Lin.

Wrighton reported on the ongoing development of Preston M. Green Hall for the School of Engineering & Applied Science, named in honor of the late Preston Green, a WUSTL alumnus and benefactor. The building will be located at the corner of Skinker and Forest Park Parkway and will connect on its western edge with the newly dedicated Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall. The project is scheduled for completion by fall 2011.

Wrighton also reported on the opening of the new College Hall dining facility on the South 40, as well as the new Family Learning Center, a 19,900-square-foot child care center located on the North Campus that offers care for 156 children from the ages of 6 weeks to 6 years. The center serves the children of faculty, staff and students.

Other Danforth and Medical Campus construction projects include Phase 1 of an advanced coal research facility; work on the Centennial Greenway bike path, including additional blue-light security phones along the route; Phase 3 of the Genome Data Center expansion, and renovation of Lopata Gallery for the School of Engineering & Applied Science and Mallinckrodt Center for academic and student services uses.

Wrighton gave an update on the Scholarship Initiative for Washington University, which was launched last November under the overall leadership of trustee Robert L. Virgil. Wrighton said that the university has already received more than $60 million in commitments toward the goal of $150 million by June 30, 2014. Wrighton noted the overall success of the university’s development efforts in the past year, including a single-year record of more than $212 million in gifts of cash, securities and gifts-in-kind.

Wrighton reported that the university finished the fiscal year June 30 with excellent financial results. Top-line revenue was about $2.1 billion, an increase of about $100 million from the year before. He thanked the school deans and Central Fiscal Unit leaders for their leadership in reducing expenses. As a result of their efforts, the net results from operations were better than budgeted and better than the spring estimate, with a total operating surplus of almost $149 million, compared to about $107 million in the prior year.

Wrighton also reported that the endowment return was approximately 12.7 percent and, after spending about 5 percent of current market value, the value of the endowment was about $4.6 billion on June 30, 2010, representing an increase of about $400 million over last year.

Wrighton reported on the recent and upcoming installations of five new, chaired professorships – two each in the Olin Business School and the School of Medicine and one in the School of Law. He also noted that four School of Law faculty members have received Fulbright awards for 2010-11, two doctoral students received Fulbright-Hayes grants to conduct research abroad in the coming year, and 15 current or former WUSTL Arts & Sciences students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships for the coming academic year.

Wrighton made special note of several recent specialized rankings of the university and its programs, including the Wall Street Journal’s ranking of Olin Business School’s Executive MBA program as the second best in the country, as well as the fact that the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs in entrepreneurship have been recognized as among the top ten in the U.S. by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

He also reported that the National Research Council (NRC) has issued ratings of 5,000 academic areas for doctoral programs at more than 200 national research universities. A number of WUSTL programs received strong ratings within the ranges provided by NRC, which do represent a ranking. As a result — using the NRC’s combined “S” and “R” ratings — 16 WUSTL programs may be ranked as high as the top 10 in their respective disciplines and eight more may rank as high as the top 20.

Wrighton said that all Washington University campuses became tobacco-free beginning July 1. Under the new university policy, smoking and tobacco use is prohibited on all university-owned and -managed properties. He also noted that this year’s United Way Campaign was in full swing with a university goal of raising $615,000.

Wrighton reported that the university recently received the “World Changer” award from the Blessing Basket Project, a social entrepreneurship effort resulting from the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Programs and made possible with generous support from former trustee Bob Skandalaris. The program involves training women in impoverished regions of the world to weave baskets that are then shipped to the U.S. for sale. The money earned by the women is transforming lives and communities, and about 3,000 weavers in six countries participate in the effort.

Wrighton recognized the extraordinary accomplishments of many of the university’s athletic teams, including the currently unbeaten and No.1-ranked volleyball team, the unbeaten and No. 18-ranked men’s soccer team, and the men’s and women’s cross country teams, ranked second and fourth, respectively, in NCAA Division III. He also noted that the university will serve as host of the NCAA Division III volleyball championship Nov. 19-21.

In addition, the Board heard reports from the following standing committees: development, educational policy, university finance, medical finance, audit and the alumni board of governors.