Trustees discuss higher education trends, chancellor search; elect new board member

Mark S. Wrighton
Wrighton

The Dec. 1 meeting of the Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees focused on trends in higher education and the search for a new chancellor, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The board also elected a new trustee, Albert Yuk Keung Ip, BS ’73, executive director and chief executive officer of Langham Hospitality Investments Limited in Hong Kong.

Ip, who has been a dedicated alumnus volunteering in multiple roles for more than 15 years, was elected as an Ethan A.H. Shepley Trustee for a four-year term ending in December 2021. For more on Ip, visit The Source.

During a discussion-oriented session of the meeting, Wrighton reflected on university rankings and Provost Holden Thorp focused on broader trends and challenges in higher education, including the growing number of Americans who do not see the value of a college education.

Following that discussion, and setting the stage for the next one, the trustees met with members of the newly selected chancellor search committee who will assist the board in identifying the best candidates in higher education to succeed Wrighton when he concludes his term no later than June 30, 2019.

Wrighton noted that he and members of the administration were excused from the board meeting during that executive session. As he said about the unusual occurrence of the chancellor stepping out from the meeting, “While it was a different approach to our board meeting, it was a very important one as the trustees consider the future of this great institution.”

Among the areas Wrighton addressed in his report to the board were an administrative search and updates on admissions, athletics and construction.

He noted that a search is underway for the next director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the upcoming departure of its current director, Emre Toker, at the end of the year.

Admissions

Despite natural disaster challenges around the country and local unrest after the Stockley decision, Admissions’ Nov. 1 early-decision deadline brought a 2 percent increase over the fall 2017 application cycle.

Admissions participated in an “I’m First” live web chat with prospective first-generation, lower socio-economic background students, providing information about financial assistance and support programs that encourage access and success at Washington University.

A virtual tour of the Danforth Campus that features a variety of 360-degree photos and a walking path around campus will be launched soon, allowing prospective students a more in-depth look at the university.

Athletics

Wrighton was pleased to inform the board that Lizzy Crist, a May engineering graduate, was named 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year, becoming only the second Washington University student-athlete and fifth Division III student-athlete to be selected.

The men’s and women’s cross country team ran to top five finishes at the NCAA Division III Championships, with the women placing third and the men fifth. The UAA champion women’s soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in the last seven seasons and the UAA champion volleyball team qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 32nd-straight season.

Construction

Wrighton reported the great progress being made on the Danforth Campus east end transformation project, with floors, wall columns and beams in place on the lower level of Jubel Hall and ramps poured up to level two in the underground parking garage. The foundation is almost complete for Weil Hall, and the installation of concrete footing and walls for Schnuck Pavilion began in November. Planning is underway for the expansion of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

He also noted that Olin Library is on schedule to be completed by late December, and the renovation of Bryan Hall and Millstone Plaza are nearing completion. A new parking garage is under construction at the 560 Music Center building and should be complete by June 1. Traffic-control equipment is being installed in Millbrook, Snow Way, Danforth University Center and West Campus garages, and renovations to January Hall are expected to begin in late December.

On the Medical Campus, the Mid Campus Center office building is complete, while construction continues at the 4480 building, which is being expanded to house WashU IT. The old Shriners building is being repurposed as apartment-style housing and should be complete by June.

The Becker Library renovation and the Central West End MetroLink station upgrades continue, and construction on the Boyle/Cortex station began in June.

In his remarks to the board, Wrighton also highlighted a number of recent university successes, including the awarding of Rhodes Scholarships to two seniors, Camille Borders and Jasmine Brown, and the selection of seven faculty as American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows.

In addition, the trustees, under Chair Craig D. Schnuck, chairman emeritus of Schnuck Markets Inc., heard reports from the following committees: development, educational policy, nominating and governance, and university finance; and received written reports from the audit, medical finance, university finance and the Alumni Board of Governors committees.

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