At its fall meeting Oct. 3, the Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees heard special reports on Arts & Sciences and the university’s endowment and received a report from Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton that included updates on administrative appointments, admissions, athletics and construction.
Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences, gave an update on the school’s priorities and its Leading Together capital campaign.
Kimberly G. Walker, chief investment officer, presented a report on the university’s endowment, sharing that the total return for the endowment was 15.8 percent for the year that ended June 30. As of that date, the value of the endowment was $6.7 billion, an increase of more than $900 million, net of spending. Spending from endowment was about $247 million during FY14.
In his report to the board, the chancellor noted that the Admissions Office enrolled the largest freshman class in WUSTL history — approximately 1,740 students from across the nation and some 20 countries.
This academically strong class includes a higher percentage of Federal Pell-grant students (approximately 8 percent versus 6 percent last year) as a result of the university’s goal to increase its socio-economic diversity and its continued commitment to making WUSTL accessible and affordable for all qualified students.
Wrighton re-affirmed the university would continue to make progress on enhancing the socio-economic diversity of the student body.
Doing better, being better post-Ferguson
The chancellor discussed the Aug. 9 death of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a city in north St. Louis County, and the ensuing tension and unrest in the St. Louis community.
Noting the role Washington University should play in helping the community become better and stronger, he outlined ways the university is responding, including convening important conversations, creating a digital repository called “Documenting Ferguson,” and broadening educational access in the St. Louis community.
Toward that effort, the chancellor announced that the university is nearly doubling the size of the College Prep Program, the recently launched multi-year initiative to help prepare high-achieving high school students with limited financial resources for college.
This summer, the university hosted the first cohort of 26 college prep scholars, all high school sophomores from across the St. Louis region, for a two-week residential experience on campus. The students will stay involved with the university throughout the school year and return to campus the next two summers for three-week sessions that include intensive college readiness programs.
Because of the university’s ongoing commitment to helping talented but underserved St. Louis high school students prepare for and complete a college education, the university will increase the number of rising sophomores accepted into the program next summer to approximately 50, with a focus on recruiting students from north St. Louis County.
In administration news, he said that Jennifer K. Lodge, PhD (’88), associate dean for research and professor of molecular microbiology at the School of Medicine, had been appointed vice chancellor for research, succeeding Evan Kharasch, MD, PhD, the Russell D. and Mary B. Sheldon Professor of Anesthesiology and professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, who stepped down after serving in that role since 2009.
He also noted that Emre Toker, from the University of Arizona, had been appointed managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Wrighton said that search committees had been formed to identify candidates for two key positions with the recent announcements that Ralph S. Quatrano, PhD, will step down as dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Sharon Stahl, PhD, will retire as vice chancellor for students, both at the end of the academic year, June 30, 2015.
Wrighton recognized the accomplishments and national rankings of several of the university’s athletic teams, including the No. 1-ranked women’s soccer team with a 9-0-1 record and the No. 4-ranked volleyball team with an 18-2 overall record under first-year head coach Vanessa Walby.
He noted that sophomore Rebecca Ho won the tennis singles championship at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship and advances to the national championships later this month.
He also recognized an unprecedented honor in school history: In one week in September, four student-athletes were named by national coaches’ organizations as “Athlete of the Week” in their respective sports.
Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University
Trustee Andrew C. Taylor, chairman of the Leading Together campaign reported to the Board of Trustees on the progress toward the financial goals of the effort.
As of Sept. 30, 2014, the total gifts received and pledged is $1.638 billion, including more than $508 million raised since the public kickoff of the campaign in October 2012. The goal is to raise at least $2.2 billion by the end of the campaign in 2018.
Importantly, support for scholarships for students through the campaign now totals $267 million with a goal of raising $400 million. This support, along with re-prioritization of spending and cost reductions, has enabled the university to expand its commitment to undergraduate financial aid from about $70 million in 2009 to $85 million in 2014, with more growth anticipated.
The campaign already has led to the establishment of 85 new endowed professorships. At this point in the campaign, resources raised to support people — through scholarships for students and professorships for faculty — exceeds $440 million. Campaign support for new facilities totals about $193 million, including the recently dedicated Bauer Hall and Knight Hall.
During his report, Wrighton gave updates on construction projects on both the Danforth and Medical campuses.
On the Danforth Campus, he noted that Francis Gym is undergoing extensive renovation in preparation for the new Sumers Recreation Center and that salvaged construction materials, including the gym floor, are being repurposed.
He said the expansion of the Brown School and Institute for Public Health continues on schedule, with a June 2015 completion date.
Wrighton said planning continues for the East Campus master plan, and renovations in the lower level of the Women’s Building will be completed by mid-November.
He noted that The Lofts of Washington University, the new $80 million mixed-use development that brings green architecture, new residents and a grocery store to the Delmar Loop, opened this summer. On Aug. 23, about 400 undergraduates moved into The Lofts’ fully furnished apartments.
Wrighton also gave updates on construction projects at the School of Medicine, including the energy-efficient, multidisciplinary research building that will house 138,000 square feet of flexible, open labs on six floors.
In his remarks to the board, Wrighton highlighted a number of recent university successes, including numerous faculty awards and recognitions, professorship installations, research awards and achievements, and student activities and achievements.
The chancellor also noted the recent deaths of five members of the Washington University community: Felicia Ausbury, senior associate director in Alumni Relations; Jean Sutherland Boggs, the first woman appointed to full professorship in the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences; William E. Cornelius, emeritus trustee and alumnus; Lynn Hovland, former football coach; and D. Tab Rasmussen, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences.
In other board action, the trustees voted on and passed tribute resolutions for John Schael, who retired this summer after 36 years of leading the Department of Athletics and building one of the best scholar-athlete programs in the nation, and for Emeritus Professor Robert E. Thach, PhD, for his decades of service and leadership to the university as dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and as a professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and of biochemistry and molecular biophysics in the School of Medicine.
In addition, the trustees, under new chair Craig D. Schnuck, chairman of the executive committee of Schnuck Markets Inc., heard reports from the following committees: audit, development, educational policy, global engagement, university finance and the Alumni Board of Governors, and received written reports from the medical finance and university finance committees.