Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting September 25, 2020

The Board of Visitors met on September 25, 2020 in the Board Room of the David Student Union with Rector Bobby Hatten presiding.

Present from the Board

  • Ms. Regina Brayboy
  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq.
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. W. Bruce Jennings
  • The Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason

Absent from the Board

  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Dr. Ella P. Ward
  • Mr. Junius H. Williams, Jr.

Present from the University

  • The Honorable Paul Trible, President
  • Mr. William Brauer, Executive Vice President
  • Mrs. Cynthia Perry, Chief of Staff
  • Dr. David Doughty, Provost
  • Mrs. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Strategy and Planning
  • Mrs. Adelia Thompson, Vice President for University Advancement
  • Mrs. Beverley Mueller, Executive Assistant
  • Maureen Matsen, Esq., University Counsel
  • Dr. Tatiana Rizova, Faculty Senate President
  • Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success
  • Dr. Kevin Hughes, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Michelle Moody, Esq., Director Title IX and EO
  • Dr. Angela Spranger, Assistant to the President for Equity and Engagement

Rector Hatten welcomed everyone present and thanked President Trible for his extraordinary efforts to keep Christopher Newport’s students, faculty and staff safe during these difficult and challenging times due to the pandemic.

Rector Hatten then asked Mr. Jennings to conduct the election of officers. Mr. Jennings said that the Nominating Committee recommended the following slate of officers to serve for the 2020-2022 term -- Mr. Robert Hatten, Rector; Mr. Brad Hunter, Vice Rector and Ms. Terri McKnight, Secretary. He called for other nominations and there were none. Mr. Jennings said the recommendations come to the Board as a recommendation from the Nominating Committee and the slate of officers was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten thanked the Board for the opportunity to serve as Rector for the next two years and said he looks forward to continuing his services, seeing the University through the COVID-19 crisis and keeping CNU on the upward trajectory that it has been on for the last 25 years.

Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve the minutes of the June 4, 2020 full Board meeting and the June 4, 2020 performance review meeting. Sheriff Morgan provided the motion, seconded by Mr. Hunter, and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten reviewed the Policy to Allow Electronic Participation in Board meetings in response to the circumstances of COVID-19. He explained that the adoption of this policy allows Board members to participate in meetings virtually and safely when necessary. Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve the policy. Ms. Wason provided the motion which was seconded by Ms. Morton and the policy was adopted with the unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten reviewed the proposed bylaws change which he noted would not require a vote at this meeting but at the next. The proposed amendment would eliminate the Building and Grounds Committee and merge those responsibilities with the Finance and Audit Committee. He said that this would allow the committee to act more efficiently since less construction is anticipated in the future and the focus now is on building maintenance. There was a discussion about maintaining funds necessary to ensure the proper maintenance of the campus facilities. President Trible explained that monies are set aside each year for that specific purpose and that responsibility falls to the Finance Committee. Mr. Ermatinger agreed that finance and facilities should be together, however, he thought that the Audit Committee should be separate and include IT and cybersecurity matters. There was further discussion and agreement among other Board members and a new recommendation will be brought forward at the next meeting.

President’s Report

President Trible introduced and welcomed our newest Board member Ms. Regina Brayboy and said she was an extraordinary addition to our Board.

President Trible reported that the number of coronavirus cases to date is very small and he attributes that to our students, faculty and staff adhering to wearing face masks and social distancing among other safety measures. He said that the number of active cases is reported each day on the dashboard which is located on the CNU website and everyone is required to complete a symptom screener daily. He thanked his colleagues for their hard work in preparing the campus for the safe return of our faculty, staff and students for in-person instruction.

President Trible reminded the Board that in June they approved a freeze in tuition and fees and room and board and that CNU was the only public institution to do so. The budget presented at that time was very conservative and the Board was told that a revised budget may need to be presented in the future due to the uncertainties of COVID-19. President Trible said that he was pleased to report that the budget did not need to be revised and that CNU has not had to cut salaries or impose furloughs. He said that savings have been achieved through hiring and travel freezes, utility savings, among other actions. In addition, our fall enrollment numbers have remained stable. He reported that our fall headcount of 4,868 is only 51 students fewer than last year. He said that the number of students in the freshman class total 1,155 and the average high school GPA of the class is 3.87. The President told the Board that the number and percent of students of color in the freshman class has increased this year to 23.1%, the highest percent in a decade. He further said that the total number of students of color has increased from 1,031 to 1,097 which is 22.5% of our students.

He further reported that this year’s President’s Leadership Program has 460 students and there are 124 students in the Honors program and their average GPA is 4.28. He said the freshman to sophomore retention rate for all students is 87.2% and the 2020 retention rate for our Black students is even higher – 91% . Our four-year graduation rate is 69% and six-year graduation rate is 80%. The six-year graduation rate for all students of color is 76% and for our Black students, 77%. The most recent survey of our recently graduated students indicates that 97% are either employed full time or attending graduate school full time within 6 months of graduating.

President Trible told the Board that President’s Hall, the newest residential building is now complete and houses 79 juniors and seniors. In addition, the Fine Arts Center is quickly taking shape and will be completed in spring 2021.

President Trible said that success in our community and Commonwealth requires equity and social justice. He said that this is a time of pain and protest and we have a duty to hear our students’ voices, see their fears and help in their struggles. He told the Board that he had appointed Dr. Angela Spranger to serve as the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and she will work with faculty, staff and students and alumni to ensure that all members of our university community feel seen, safe and valued. He outlined the actions they will pursue in the future including engaging the university community in launching the Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion recently approved by the Diversity and Inclusion Council which is chaired by Sheriff Morgan. Mr. Morgan shared with the Board details of the most recent Council meeting. Sheriff Morgan also told the Board about the wonderful event on campus led by a student named Justin Wilson. Justin organized a march which was attended by several hundred people and there was no violence and he demonstrated great leadership. Mr. Morgan applauded President Trible for his leadership and openness to holding this event. President Trible thanked Mr. Morgan for his leadership as well and said his words at the Council meeting were most powerful – “I believe change will come because I believe in the moral arc of America.”

President Trible expressed his profound thanks to the faculty and in particular the Faculty Senate President Tatiana Rizova. He said that after a four hour meeting with the Faculty Senate, they fashioned a plan for in-person teaching that responded to important concerns of the faculty and allowed nearly 70% of our classes to be taught in person.

President Trible said that CNU successfully launched the new Masters Program in Financial Analysis with a larger than projected number of students. He also said that CNU just submitted its first year report on the Tech Talent program and that our goals were met and exceeded.
He reported that due to COVID-19 there are no fall sports and we are hopeful competition will start in January. He noted that teams can practice but only in groups of 10.

President Trible told the Board that we exceeded our fundraising goal of $6 million and finished the year with nearly $6.5 million. He said that part of this success was due to alumni and friends contributing to our first million-dollar CNU day on March 11th, just before the world shut down. The fundraising goal this year is $4 million due to current circumstances. Major gift discussions are underway for the new Fine Arts Center, scholarships, athletics, Community Captains and the Wason Center.

President Trible was pleased to report that CNU has established a new scholarship - the Inclusive Excellence Scholarship – which stems from the challenge issued to colleges issued at the funeral service of George Floyd to contribute to educational promise of aspiring young Black Americans. The leading gift for this scholarship was provided by CNU Professor Dr. Lisa Spiller.

Rector Hatten personally thanked Mr. Morgan for his leadership and example he is setting for our Black students and for all of us. Rector Hatten said that President Trible’s dreams for Christopher Newport to develop leaders is coming true as we are seeing in times of crises like what we are experiencing today. Rector Hatten said President Trible has kept him well-informed about the University’s challenges and how CNU is responding. He said he appreciates his vision, energy and his leadership for the past 25 years even in the most difficult circumstances.

Finance Report

Mr. Brauer reported on the University’s finances for the year ended June 30, 2020. He said the State provided $1.43 million for the completion of the Fine Arts Center. He said this amount was requested several months ago due to COVID- related matters. He told the Board that the original appropriation from the State was $49.3 million but about a year and a half ago the State came to us and said we needed more money to complete the project and they appropriated $8.3 million making this now a $59 million project.

Mr. Brauer said that four major factors impacted the June 30th financial numbers: the mid- March shut down, CARES Act Stimulus, timing of capital reserves and expenditures and room and board rebates. CNU lowered its expenditures by imposing a hiring freeze, postponing travel, and cutting utility costs, among other measures. He said that 80% of the staff was teleworking over the summer while grounds, housekeeping and dining worked on campus. Since the University reopened on August 3, staff is working in two different shifts to lower the chances of transmission of the virus. He said that we did remarkably well at year end and are well positioned financially for the future.

Mr. Brauer reviewed all the expenses and revenues of the university. He said the revenues reflect the impact of the $3.1 million CARES Act supplement and the $1.4 million for auxiliary enterprises. He explained that the net income of $1.8 million was achieved mainly from our cost saving efforts.

Mr. Brauer explained that the Education and General funds support the primary mission of the university. The net increase for the year was zero which indicates that everything balanced and the University spent what it was supposed to spend.

Mr. Brauer reviewed the financials related to auxiliary services operating funds. He said that cash balances will be moved into reserves which will be available in the event those monies are needed for building maintenance or further rebates. He said the University has seen savings due to the fact there is no post-season athletic play. He said that the positive cash balance will ensure financial security in the future. He also reported that the Ferguson Center ended up with a positive balance despite the pandemic and the curtailing of the season.

There was a discussion of the restructuring of bonds. He said that Treasury believes this will result in approximately $14 million in savings in the near term but over the life of the bonds, there actually is no savings.

Mr. Brauer reviewed RESOLUTION 1: Annual SWaM Procurement Plan which is presented to the Board each year. He said there was very little change from last year but more categories have been added under the Governor’s plan. We are still obligated to a 42% goal, which is governed by the State and is spread out among all the categories. Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve Resolution 1. Mr. Jennings provided the motion which was seconded by Ms. Herbert and it was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

President Trible thanked Mr. Brauer for his commitment, leadership and dedication to the university.

Budget Update

Ms. Jennifer Latour was pleased to report that the budget did not need to be revised from the previous Board meeting as was anticipated. She said this was due to primarily three reasons: the State general fund appropriation remained unchanged from June, we hit the enrollment projections that the budget was based on and we received a significant amount of federal relief funds to help off-set COVID-related expenses.

She told the Board that CNU received more than $4.5 million in federal CARES Act funds. There were multiple allocations of the CARES Act funds which included monies to offset the room and board rebates and dollars to provide emergency grants to our students to assist with COVID-related expenses. In addition, monies have been allocated for student financial aid and funds to prepare the campus for reentry this fall.

Ms. Latour reported that because many of our students were concerned about returning to live on campus, we lifted our residential and dining requirements for this semester. She reported there were 339 students who opted out of housing and 317 who opted out of dining. This negatively affected our revenues by almost $2 million. She reviewed the room and board refund policy should the University need to shift to fully remote instruction and send our students home. She said that the refunds vary depending on how long students remain on campus. She noted that regardless of whether we send the students home or not, there is a $19 million debt and lease payment obligation. She then reviewed the estimated revenue budget shortfalls depending on when the students go home. Ms. Latour said the shortfall is being covered through the spending freezes that are in place. She said a number of strategies are in place to balance the budget if we are faced with these shortfalls but we remain optimistic we will conclude this semester successfully.

Academic Affairs

Provost Doughty reported that despite the COVID situation there have been many accomplishments and many initiatives are underway. He reported that our freshman to sophomore retention rate is 4% higher this year than last, proving that our students wanted to come back to campus and attend classes. The faculty size last year was 287 full-time faculty and this year there are 286 faculty, with one pending search. He noted that efforts have been underway to bring down the number of full-time faculty in non-tenure track positions to 25% and this year our rate is 24.5%, reaching our goal.

Provost Doughty reported that three new majors are available to our students: Cybersecurity, which is part of our Tech-Talent initiative to produce more students with degrees and majors in Computer Science and Computer Engineering; Criminology, and Leadership which can only be taken as a second major. In addition, Kinesiology has been added to our curriculum which will strengthen our position in STEM and gain students that we lose each year to other universities that offer Kinesiology. He told the Board that this past year three new agreements have been signed with other institutions. Two are with Virginia Tech -- a 4+1 Master of Engineering in Computer Engineering and a 4+1 Master of Engineering in Computer Science. Also, this past year, a 3+1+1 agreement was finalized with the University of Glasgow for our humanities students. Dr. Doughty also reported on two initiatives at the VCU School of Medicine. The Pauley Heart Center is interested in partnering with CNU to create a research internship at the Heart Center and the School of Medicine is interested in creating an early admission program.

He told the Board that our faculty won grants this year totaling $2.8 million which is higher than the average of the previous three years and that our funded expenditures was the highest in the last five years. He noted that our regional accreditor requires that schools seeking reaffirmation of accreditation also propose a Quality Enhancement Plan and we proposed undergraduate research. This has been hugely successful with our students and they are engaged in meaningful undergraduate research.

Provost Doughty reported that service has remained a priority for our students despite the pandemic. Our Center for Community Engagement worked with our community partners to create a plethora of remote service opportunities this semester.

Provost Doughty explained RESOLUTION 2: Exclusion of Certain Officers/Directors in Accordance with National Industry Security Program. He said this Resolution allows the Board to exclude its members, along with the Chief of Staff, from the security clearance required of other administrators. This Resolution has been updated to include our newest Board members. Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve Resolution 2. Mr. Jennings provided the motion, seconded by Ms. Herbert and it was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Student Life Report

Dr. Kevin Hughes said that a lot of people have put in many hours to get us to the place we are today. They had to explore, develop and modify numerous plans based on changing guidance and COVID conditions. During the summer, there were multiple campus communications, through email, video-drop messaging, interactive town halls, etc. In addition, special training was developed for all faculty, staff and students in preparation for their return to campus.

Dr. Hughes said that this year was particularly challenging for our incoming freshmen since they could not have the usual orientation experience but it was important to us to still deliver on our defining characteristics. Weekly virtual engagement with students and parents were held to prepare for the start of the academic year with special COVID-related topics. He said that different ways were developed to create in-person interactions, including rotating setting sail sessions and move-in dates. He reported that the Summer Leadership Adventure was held in- person at end of Welcome Week.

Many preventive measures were put in place to prepare for the safe return to campus, cleaning protocols, sanitizing stations, distance dots, return kits, de-densification of classrooms and programming space, etc. The dining plan has gone very well with limited and physically distance seating, takeout and grab-and-go and pop-up cafes. Dr. Hughes said that we have been aggressively conservative in our actions to prevent the spread of the virus requiring daily screening and plans for isolation and quarantining and contact tracing. He said that internal community tracing protocols were developed in addition to the tracing done by VDH. There are dedicated tracers for faculty, staff and students and we follow up on screening and identify potential exposure for quarantine when necessary. Dr. Hughes said that case managers are assigned to faculty, staff and students, there is food service, laundry and mail delivery, etc. Dr. Hughes said the relationship with Riverside has been incredibly beneficial to us. Riverside helps us with community contact tracing and they have built a telehealth site for CNU so students can get appointments and doctor referrals. On the mental health side, he said the usage numbers are actually down which is consistent with other schools. Dr. Hughes said this was a result of students using their personal medical providers through telehealth.

Dr. Hughes said that we are still creating a life on campus although with limitations (i.e., event sizes are capped, no guests are allowed in the residence halls, etc.), but many events are happening with pre-approval and multiple site locations and virtual options are being utilized.

Title IX Annual Report

Ms. Michelle Moody provided the Board with the annual update on the changes to the Title IX Regulations. After a time for public comment on the proposed regulations, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued the 2020 regulations with an effective date of August 14, 2020. The regulations amended the Code of Federal Regulations and have the force and effect of law. The OCR made it clear that the University’s non-discrimination Title IX policy statement must be posted in various places including our website, catalogs, handbooks, etc. Ms. Moody said that gender identity and sexual orientation was added as a protected class. Ms. Moody said that CNU has two processes to investigate Title IX violations. Process A is what is covered under the new Title IX regulations and Process B is our internal process in which we include things that are not covered under Process B such as incidents happening off campus and she further explained the differences.

She said one important aspect of our internal policy is that every employee is considered a “responsible employee” and must report when they are made aware of a violation of our Title IX policy. She said that under Virginia law a respondent must have an advisor of choice if the sanction could be suspension or dismissal and this goes beyond just sexual misconduct allegations. She also told the Board that CNU notes on a student’s transcript if they have been found guilty of sexual misconduct or if a case is under investigation. She told the Board that there were 3 investigations in her office last year with a finding of one responsible party which resulted in dismissal. Ms. Moody also said training is very important on our campus and over 2,900 employees were trained last year. New employees are trained in person and on-line training is used for employees and students. In addition, the NCAA sexual violence policy requires yearly annual training of athletic staff and student-athletes. Ms. Moody reported on the many networking and development initiatives in which CNU participates. She also reviewed the many different programs offered at the University.

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Dr. Angela Spranger was welcomed as the newest member of the Administration. Dr. Spranger said she started in August and began with the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan and launching a listening tour. She said she has been working with various groups around campus and initiated the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion dialogue series. In the future she will be implementing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion book club. She also said she would be implementing an equity roundtable and will be reviewing the excellence framework from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Dr. Spranger said that the Council on Diversity and Inclusion recently met and she has also met with the Multicultural Alumni Chapter Executive Board and both meetings went well. She told the Board that the DEI website was being updated which will include and equity dashboard, videos, informational documents and book reviews. In addition, Scholar is now name only identification, eliminating Mr., Ms., etc.

Dr. Spranger said that the Community Captains program - cohorts 1 and 2 – is about to be launched and the average GPA of those students is 3.7. She said that she participated in a Dominion Energy panel and was given information about the Dominion Energy Diversity Conference. She said the conference includes 12 students from all over the country and the students are interviewed for internships. We made our students aware of this opportunity and 44 students applied. CNU had 3 students accepted to attend the conference this year and we are the only school with 3 students.

Dr. Spranger reported that she was working on a NSSA grant proposal focusing on equity and inclusion and faculty. She said that she is working with the Center for Community Engagement to create Ferguson Equity Fellows which will primarily be student workers. She is connecting with other diversity officers in the Commonwealth and is moving forward with the development of a DEI training program.

Faculty Senate Report

Dr. Tatiana Rizova, President of the Faculty Senate, reported that she is teaching in-person and our students have been very conscientious about wearing masks and staying socially distanced. She said that her other faculty colleagues have commented that they are happy to be back on campus.

Dr. Rizova said that the faculty are so grateful to the entire CNU community for their remarkable efforts and planning this summer. She told the Board that since the pandemic began, faculty and staff have spent 145 work days to fulfill their duties and responsibilities under these extraordinary circumstances and the administrative leaders and staff have spent countless hours strategizing the future of our institution and figuring out ways of keeping all of its members safe in the midst of the “new normal.”

She said that things are going well in the classroom and we have good reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future. She reported that the teachers who are teaching remotely have provided positive feedback. However, most faculty are teaching classes in person and they are comfortable with the protocols that are in place. Dr. Rizova said that having additional online course options for students is helping them stay on track and alleviates some anxiety issues for faculty and helps with childcare concerns.

One of the annual goals of the faculty is to participate actively and meaningfully in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and they plan to continue making progress on this goal. Dr. Rizova said that the faculty is appreciative of the decision to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Election Day official University holidays. Dr. Rizova said she is convinced in the value of a liberal arts education, and the faculty encourages the Board and administration to keep this mission in the forefront as decisions are made about the future. She said that it is important to bring up engaged individuals who are passionate about making a difference in our world. Dr. Rizova said that President Trible frequently reminds our students to set the world on fire with their ideas, skills and intellectual energy.

Rector Hatten asked Mr. Hunter to entertain a motion to enter closed session under Freedom of Information Act Section 2.2.3711(a)(1) Personnel; (a)(9) Gifts, Bequests and Fundraising and (a)(11) Honorary Degrees. Mr. Jennings provided the motion, seconded by Ms. Wason and the motion passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

The Board returned to open session and Vice Rector Hunter asked for a roll call certifying that only public matters were discussed that were identified in the motion by which the executive or closed meeting was called. Board members Mr. Bruce Jennings, Mr. Brad Hunter, Ms. Judy Wason, Ms. Maria Herbert, Mr. Bill Ermatinger, Ms. Regina Brayboy, Sheriff Gabe Morgan and Rector Bobby Hatten certified to the above.

Rector Hatten entertained a motion of matters previously discussed. Mr. Ermatinger moved that the Board execute CNU’s obligation as it relates to President Trible’s performance contained in his employment agreement. Sheriff Morgan seconded the motion and it passed by unanimous vote of the Board. Ms. Maria Herbert moved that the Board bestow upon Ms. Cindi Perry and Mr. Bill Brauer an honorary doctorate degree. Mr. Hunter seconded the motion and it passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

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