Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting November 13, 2020

The Board of Visitors met virtually on November 13, 2020. The meeting was held as permitted by Va. Code § 2.2-3708.2, Chapter 1289 of the 2020 Acts of the Virginia General Assembly, without a quorum of the Board physically assembled in one location, due to the nature of the ongoing State of Emergency declared by the Governor's Executive Order 51 which made it impracticable and unsafe to convene in person. Rector Robert R. Hatten, presided over the meeting.

Present from the Board

  • Ms. Regina P. Brayboy
  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq.
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Mr. W. Bruce Jennings
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • The Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Dr. Ella P. Ward
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason
  • Mr. Junius Williams

Absent from the Board

  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Lindsey Carney, Smith, Esq.

Present from the University

  • The Honorable Paul Trible, President
  • Mr. William Brauer, Senior Counselor to the President
  • Mrs. Cynthia Perry, Senior Counselor to the President
  • Dr. David Doughty, Provost
  • Mrs. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Finance and Planning and CFO
  • Mrs. Adelia Thompson, Chief of Staff
  • Mrs. Beverley Mueller, Executive Assistant
  • Maureen Matsen, Esq., University Counsel
  • Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success
  • Dr. Kevin Hughes, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Mr. Robert Lange, Dean of Admission
  • Mr. Keith Roots, Vice President for University Advancement
  • Ms. Christine Ledford, Vice President for Administration and Auxiliary Service
  • Mr. Jim Hanchett, Chief Communications Officer
  • Dr. Tatiana Rizova, Faculty Senate President

Rector Hatten welcomed everyone present and asked Ms. Mueller to have a roll call of the Board members present.

Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve the minutes of the September 25, 2020 meeting. Ms. Judy Wason provided the motion, which was seconded by Mr. Junius Williams and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

President’s Report

President Trible reminded the Board that this is the final meeting for Mr. Bill Brauer and Ms. Cindi Perry. He said that no two people have contributed more to the remarkable success and accomplishments of the university over the past 20 years and he is very grateful for their leadership, wise council and many contributions. The Board applauded Mr. Brauer and Ms. Perry.

President Trible reported that Christopher Newport is successfully completing its 11th week of classes and heading into the final week of in-person instruction. He said he was profoundly grateful to students, faculty and staff for all they have contributed.

He said that the spring semester will begin January 11 and 70% of our classes will be in-person, the largest percentage among our sister institutions. President Trible reported that spring registration is underway and, to date, 2,257 graduate students, seniors and juniors had registered versus 2,167 this time last year. He noted that freshmen and sophomores register next week. He also said that it is expected that the 339 students who opted out of housing in the fall will return to campus in the spring.

President Trible reported that today we have 15 positive student cases of the COVID-19 virus and only one positive employee case. The majority of the positive cases stem from off-campus behavior and activities and there is no evidence of classroom, dining or facilities transmission. He said that a more aggressive testing strategy will be in place for the spring.

After shifting to virtual only recruitment in March, the Office of Admission began welcoming prospective students and their families back to campus in September. Virtual information sessions were held as well and remote interviews continue on a daily basis. In addition, the Office of Admission has offered open houses, scholarship events and workshops, participated in college fairs and will host nearly 300 high school presentation – all accomplished virtually.

He noted national trends demonstrate that students are behind in college searches and the application process this year. We are also slightly down, however, the academic profile of our applicants is strong – the average GPA is 3.84 and SAT is 1210, both higher than last year.

President Trible reported that we continue to show progress in our efforts to recruit minority students and the percentage of students of color in the freshman class this year is 23.1% - the highest in a decade. The total number of students of color has increased from 1,031 to 1,097 which is 22.5% of our student body. He expressed his gratitude to Mr. Curtis Davidson, Mr. Rob Lange and the Admission Office, Dr. Angela Spranger, and the Council on Diversity and Inclusion chaired by Mr. Gabe Morgan.

President Trible said that the Community Captains program is underway and the first cohort of students from Newport News schools is now at 66 and their average GPA is 3.9. He said 40 of these students have expressed an interest in attending CNU next fall and many of these students will enroll in a CNU statistic class next semester. There are 60 high school juniors in the second cohort and they have completed their admission interviews and will begin to engage in an array of virtual campus activities.

President Trible said that student organizations hosted 100 in-person campus events over the course of the semester with pre-approved safety plans. Counseling numbers compared to last year are down which is attributed to a delayed start of the semester and the fact that students are using their home counselors. Students can choose between telehealth or in-person sessions and most students prefer the telehealth option.

He said that although athletic teams have not competed this fall, all sports have been conducting practices with appropriate precautions. He said that when students return in January, athletics will continue practices with the hope that a limited number of competitions may be possible for the fall and winter sports. Spring sports may be delayed but we remain hopeful they will have the opportunity to compete. President Trible told the Board that CNU will be implementing the NCAA testing protocols required for competition.

President Trible told the Board that the fundraising goal for this year is $4 million and that nearly $1.4 million has been raised. Scholarships continue to be a leading area of support, with over $630,000 in new support since July 1st. He told the Board that the alumni giving goal this year is 15%. In addition, we will be launching a mini-campaign in athletics. Also, the Wason Center, through leadership of Judy and Harry Wason, is entering a very exciting time of rebranding and fundraising.

He closed by saying that Christopher Newport is in a solid financial position as a result of many tough decision including a hiring freeze, travel freeze and the reduction of energy costs. Also, enrollment has remained strong and most of our residential students have chosen to return to campus. In addition, we received substantial funding from the federal government and Richmond.

Rector Hatten thanked President Trible for his report and his leadership and called on Ms. Jennifer Latour.

Ms. Latour also thanked Ms. Perry and Mr. Brauer for their friendship, and being her mentors.

Ms. Latour provided the Board with a budget update. She said that CNU received $4.5 million in federal funds to support our response to COVID-19 and we were successful in applying for and receiving an additional $1.1 million which brought our total COVID-19 federal funding to $5.7 million. Also, the thresholds for Auxiliary operating accounts were reset and $3.9 million was transferred to reserves. Ms. Latour said that the spending freezes will remain in effect for this current fiscal year.

Ms. Latour said that Christopher Newport fared well in the Special Session of the General Assembly. She said that the $2.4 million in tuition moderation funds were only for this fiscal year, but they will have a large impact on our financial position. In addition, there will be a state healthcare premium holiday for employees and employers in December which equals $600,000 in savings. She also said that a language amendment was placed in the budget that allows institutions to move funds between E&G and Auxiliary Services.

This year we are expecting a shortfall of just under $600,000 in tuition due to tuition waivers for military and their dependents and an increase in withdrawals. However there is a $1 million contingency fund and a one-time fund from the General Assembly leaving a healthy balance. The comprehensive fees remain on target and the room and board deficits are due to the students opting out of housing and dining but those deficits are being reduced due to the savings from the spending freezes.

For the fall, the projected tuition balance will be earmarked to support our spring COVID-19 testing. Hiring and travel freezes will remain in place and efforts are underway to bring the students back who opted out of housing in the fall.

Following the discussion on the budget, Ms. Latour then briefed the Board on the debt restructuring plans for capital projects as allowed by the Governor and said that institutions are now allowed to decide which projects they would like to include. The two types of debt that are eligible for restructuring are the General Obligation Bonds or 9(c) and the Virginia College Building Authority or 9(d) Debt. The 9(c) debt includes our residential facilities and 9(d) includes the student union, athletic facilities and parking decks, which will require General Assembly approval. The deadline to respond on our intention to participate is mid-December.

She then reviewed the ten 9(d) projects and the two 9(c) projects that are eligible. She noted that we would only be interested in the bonds that have a later maturity date and there are six projects that have been identified for debt restructuring. The Resolution that is being presented would delegate the authority to the administration to determine which capital projects would be included in the debt restructuring program.

There was discussion regarding the proposed resolution and the possibility of having another Board meeting in December to approve the projects being considered. President Trible explained that this has been in done in the past and the Resolution was drafted by Treasury so all the other institutions are using the same one. The Board inquired about a Debt Management Policy and Ms. Perry said that one was put into place a number of years ago and she would share it with the Board.

Mr. Hatten called for a motion to Approve Resolution 1. Sheriff Morgan provided the motion, seconded by Mr. Jennings and it was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Ms. McKnight, as Chair of the Audit Committee, updated the Board on the audit of the Education and Real Estate Foundations. She said the audits were completed as required and the two foundations only required one audit because of their related transactions. Ms. McKnight was happy to report that the Foundations received an unmodified or “clean” opinion in all material respects and the financial statements were fairly presented. In addition, the supplemental financial information that was presented was also issued an unmodified opinion. She reported that the two organizations had combined total assets of over $175 million and the total positive income after expenses was $2.4 million so the foundations are in a very healthy financial position. Ms. McKnight said the auditors were complimentary of our management.

Rector Hatten thanked Ms. McKnight for her good report and said the Education and Real Estate Foundations make a great contribution to the financial integrity of this University.

Mr. Jennings reported that our Internal Auditor, Faith Belote, had been struggling with staffing and he was pleased to report that an internal candidate, Christina Russell, had been hired as the Senior Internal Auditor. He said Ms. Russell will bring considerable experience and expertise to this position.

Rector Hatten once again congratulated Ms. Cindi Perry and Mr. Bill Brauer on their decades of service to Christopher Newport. He said this team has been instrumental in creating the financial integrity of this university and has been able to deliver so much to our students and community and to the education of our state.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.

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