Board of Visitors Meeting February 12, 2021 - Board of Visitors - Christopher Newport University

Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting February 12, 2021

The Board of Visitors met virtually on February 12, 2021. The meeting was held as permitted by Va. Code § 2.2-3708.2, Chapter 1283 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. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. W. Bruce Jennings
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Dr. Ella P. Ward
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason
  • Mr. Junius Williams

Absent from the Board

  • The Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.

Present from the University

  • The Honorable Paul Trible, 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 November 13, 2020 meeting. Ms. Judy Wason provided the motion, which was seconded by Ms. Ella Ward and the minutes were approved by a unanimous roll call vote of the Board.

President’s Report

President Trible thanked his colleagues for their hard work to empower the lives of our students and enrich and safeguard the life of this institution during these challenging times.

He reported that CNU’s finances are in good order due to the hard decisions to control spending, the infusion of millions of dollars from the federal and state governments and strong enrollment numbers. He said that the House and Senate have supported our level of funding for the second year of the biennium. In addition, the Senate has proposed an additional $1 million to support the operation of the Fine Arts Center. He said that the House and Senate provided additional funds to help universities with costs associated with the pandemic and have approved pay increases.

President Trible said he was very pleased with the commitment and willingness of our faculty to engage our students in person and that over 70% of our classes are being taught in person. He expects that next fall all of our classes will be in-person. He reported that next year’s incoming class looks very promising and the academic credentials of this class are stronger than last year.

President Trible reported on the Community Captains program and said it is going well. Community Captains are drawn from schools within Newport News and we have established a marvelous partnership with Newport News Public Schools. Students are selected in the spring of their sophomore year and then, in their junior and senior years, we engage those students and their families on a regular basis. Our students work with them as student mentors, we offer a statistics class free of charge and they earn 3 hours of college credit. These students are first generation students, overwhelmingly students of color and have done very well in school with good academics and have many college choices.

President Trible thanked Provost Doughty for his efforts in recruiting these students. We hope to have 25 of these students say they will attend CNU and hopefully they will stay and work on the Peninsula.

Brandon Jones, who graduated in 2000 from Christopher Newport and is a CNU Hall of Fame basketball player, is leading the Community Captains program and works closely with Dr. Angela Spranger. Dr. Spranger has responded so wonderfully to constructing programs that support our strategic plan on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. There was a meeting recently of the DE&I Council which is chaired by Sheriff Morgan, and everyone was pleased about the Community Captains program, a new training initiative for our campus, and the MLK Day Celebration programs that took place. Dr. Spranger has led and coordinated a series of conversations in the fall on a number of topics that touch on important subjects. Dr. Spranger has worked with multiple corporations who want to support our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives or partner with us to develop or broaden their own programs and provide employment opportunities for our students.

President Trible said that the arts are alive at Christopher Newport and provided an update on the Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center. He said the construction of the facility is nearing completion and we will begin to occupy the building in April. The grand opening will be held in September with an extraordinary artistic experience in conjunction with Christopher Newport’s 60th anniversary.

President Trible reported that student-athletics are returning to practice and competition this spring. We anticipate that all of our varsity sports will have meaningful practices and competitive opportunities and football expects to play an abbreviated slate of games. This is possible due to rigorous testing protocols that we have put in place.

He said that he was pleased that Mr. Keith Roots is now leading our advancement efforts and he has made substantial progress toward our goal of $4 million and 15% alumni participation. The Faculty/Staff Campaign has been postponed until the spring and will culminate this year on CNU Day. Major gift efforts are focused on the Community Captains program, the Wason Center for Civic Leadership, athletics and the arts. He said that scholarships, of course, continue to remain our first priority.

President Trible said that, as is the situation among most college campuses, we have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, but we are doing all the right things to minimize the risks. A marvelous array of protocols, programs and requirements are in place. He also reported that we have established a vaccine clinic on our campus with the Virginia Department of Health, Newport News and York County. We have vaccinated about 7,000 front-line workers. Nearly 1,000 front-line workers on our campus have been invited to participate in the clinic.

Proposed By-Laws Change

Rector Hatten reviewed the proposed by-law change regarding the Board’s standing committees. He explained that these revisions include changing the name of the Finance and Audit Committee to the Committee on Finance and Facilities; establishes the Committee on Operations, Audit and Risk and eliminates the Building and Grounds Committee. He reviewed the responsibilities and duties of each of these. He explained these are for the Board’s review and consideration and a vote will be taken at the next meeting.

Finance Report

Rector Hatten asked Ms. Latour to review the university finances with the Board. Ms. Latour reported that Christopher Newport is in a sound financial position which is attributed to having to make hard decisions on how to curb expenses, the significant COVID relief funds and that our students returned to campus.

Ms. Latour reviewed the Statement of Revenues and Expenses in detail with the Board. She then discussed the budget noting that we are in a strong financial position due, in part, to the fact that 85% of our students returned in the spring, the receipt of another $4.1 million in federal COVID relief funds and our spending freezes are working.

She reported that the certificates for the Treasury’s debt refunding program have been signed and the state recently held the bond closing. This action will generate $5.6 million in auxiliary enterprises savings for the next fiscal year.

Ms. Latour said that, as President Trible reported, CNU fared well in the respective House and Senate budgets. She also noted that both the House and Senate are proposing that the one-time infusion of $2.4 million that we received to support our operating budget last year become permanent.

Ms. Latour reported that as we approach the end of the fiscal year, it is projected there will be a $1 million revenue shortfall below our budget, but we have built in a $1 million contingency fund. With the spending freezes and the projected savings of $2.6 million, we will be in a positive cash flow position. In auxiliary enterprises, there is also a budget shortfall, but with the $1 million contingency fund, expense savings from the freezes and COVID relief funds, auxiliary will be in the black.

Ms. Latour then reviewed with the Board Resolution 1: Cancellation of Accounts Considered Uncollectible. She explained that this is an annual action which writes off debt that is uncollectible which this year is just under $15,000.00.

Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve Resolution 1 which was provided by Mr. Jennings, seconded by Mr. Hunter and then approved unanimously by a roll call vote the Board members.

Voluntary Incentive Plan

Provost Doughty thanked the faculty for their hard work and the outstanding job they have done over the last 11 months during the pandemic. He then explained the proposed early retirement incentive plan which would be available to tenured instructional faculty members who will be least 65 years old as of August 15 and have completed at least 15 academic years of full-time service to CNU by the end of academic year 2021. He said once the plan is approved it must be submitted to the Governor for his approval. Provost Doughty said that there are 16 eligible faculty members and they will be provided detailed individualized payouts under the plan. He also said that this plan will position the university to help surmount financial challenges.

Rector Hatten called for any questions or discussion on Resolution 2: Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan and then called for a motion for approval. Ms. Ward provided the motion, seconded by Ms. Brayboy and it was passed unanimously by a roll call vote of the Board.

Academic Affairs

Provost Doughty mentioned that this is the first year of our new majors in Cybersecurity, Criminology and the “second major” in Leadership. He said that the Kinesiology major is making progress and is important to us as we battle other research universities for students in this field. He also reported that we have a new agreement with the Pauley Heart Center at VCU for two student summer interns and are in the final stages of an agreement for early admission with the VCU School of Medicine. He said that we are also negotiating with Shenandoah University to reserve spaces in their Occupational Therapy programs.

Provost Doughty was pleased to report that Poets and Quants ranked the Luter School of Business among the top 10 undergraduate business schools in the nation. He also reported that Alan Witt, an alumnus of Christopher Newport, has become the Executive in Residence in the Luter School of Business.

He said that the music and theater departments are developing unique ways to stage their productions and several conferences that we were forced to cancel are coming back in a virtual format. Provost Doughty also reported that our faculty have been awarded $1.92 million in grant funding and there is over $3 million in grant requests awaiting decisions.

Lastly, he told the Board that a new endowed professorship has been established and funded by a distinguished alumnus, Doug Davis. He said that the Douglas G. Davis Professorship in Leadership Studies “shall be an individual who embraces and embodies the values of leadership, service and honor that are espoused by CNU.” It also states that “the Davis Professor shall engage in academic, educational and professional pursuits that honor and elevate the President’s Leadership Program.” He reminded the Board that President Trible holds an appointment as a tenured professor of Leadership and he will be the inaugural holder of this endowed chair. He will receive no financial benefit but, rather, the endowment will continue to grow.

President Trible expressed his sincere appreciation for this honor. He said that the Leadership program is the vehicle that has created the CNU of today that focuses on leadership, honor and civic engagement and he is honored to be the first Davis Professor. Rector Hatten suggested a Resolution of Appreciation on behalf of the Board be prepared for Mr. Davis.

Provost Doughty reviewed with the Board Resolution 3: Plan of Compensation, Resolution 4: Promotions of Instructional Faculty, Resolution 5: Tenured Appointments of Instructional Faculty and Resolution 6: Faculty Sabbaticals.

Rector Hatten called for questions or discussion and then asked for a motion to approve Resolutions 3, 4, 5 and 6. Mr. Williams provided the motion, seconded by Mr. Jennings and it was approved with a unanimous roll call vote of the Board.

Student Life

Dr. Hughes reported that campus engagement for our students continues to be a priority and that this fall there were 200 events held by 41 different organizations. He also said that the President’s Leadership Program is thriving and CNU won the ILA Case Competition again this year.

Dr. Hughes provided the Board with a detailed report on CNU’s COVID-related activities including testing strategies, the vaccine clinic, case numbers and plan modifications. He said that testing strategies have changed as the pandemic has continued, campus life has evolved and our testing strategies have expanded greatly. He said that athletics has developed a strategy consistent with NCAA guidelines and all student-athletes will be tested during this semester. Dr. Hughes reported that our re-entry testing has gone extremely well and he thanked Ms. Amie Dale, Ms. Tammy Sommer and Ms. Katie Wellbrock for their herculean effort with this process. The clinic was so successful that the local Peninsula Health District came to observe. This re-entry testing clinic was the genesis for the equally successful vaccine clinic that is now serving Newport News, York County and the CNU community and we are the region’s fist vaccine clinic of this type.

Dr. Hughes said that there has been a recent surge in cases resulting from a number of different factors. However, we have seen no evidence of classroom transmission and transmittal is occurring is small pockets of those who are not following all the guidelines. However, coming trends suggest a flattening of the curve.

Rector Hatten expressed his appreciation for all of the hard work in response to the pandemic and offered his thanks to everyone who puts themselves at risk every day while working with enthusiasm, energy and intelligence. He shared his deep appreciation of what has been done and continues to take place to make Christopher Newport a safe place.

Enrollment and Student Success

Dr. Raines said that the fall semester ended well with the average cumulative GPAs of our undergraduates of 3.14 and a number of our students qualified for academic honors. Additionally, our student-athletes earned a 3.0 or higher at the end of the semester. She was pleased to report that the fall-to-spring retention rate is nearly 95%. She said that we identified the needs of our students early and took quick action to reach out. Our strategies include student success coaching sessions, student interactions through workshops and individual appointments and communicating through emails, text messages, etc. Dr. Raines also reported that our tutors facilitated almost 2,500 individual tutoring appointments.

Dr. Raines said the Career Center works closely with our students to prepare them to interact with employers. Last semester, 190 employer events were hosted. She also said that we maintained the Fall Career Fair, Accounting Days, the Physics, Computer Science and Engineering Fair and Graduate School Fair. In mid-October a Phone-a-Thon was initiated reaching out to hundreds of at-risk students. The first-generation students were especially appreciative and eager to engage. She said that a pilot program will be launched this summer to connect our first-generation students with campus resources and will also include exercises on how to engage and make connections on campus and overall keys to success in college.

Dr. Raines reported that everyone has worked hard to make face-to-face class offerings a priority and we are a leader in the Commonwealth in terms of in-person instruction.

Upcoming events include the Spring Career Fair, which will be hosted in a virtual environment, our 10th Annual Signing Day and our Halfway There celebration hosted by Alumni Relations.

Dr. Raines said that as we move into the end of the spring semester, we anticipate nearly 1,100 students will graduate. She said it appears that enrollment will be up again this summer and registration is currently underway for both the May and June terms.

The Board took a 10-minute recess at 10:45 a.m.

The Board returned to session at 11:00 a.m. following a roll call of the Board members.

President Trible thanked all of his colleagues for their dedication, hard work and extraordinary effort during these challenging times. He said that CNU is blessed with a remarkable team who loves Christopher Newport and cares passionately about our students. Rector Hatten joined President Trible in his appreciation of our faculty and staff.

Faculty Senate Report

Dr. Rizova offered her praise and gratitude for the remarkable organization effort of the team that has worked so hard to provide a safe environment for teaching and said how much she and the faculty appreciate all that is done day in and day out. She said the vaccine clinic has been amazingly well organized and is very much appreciated.

Dr. Rizova said the faculty love being in the physical classroom and look forward to returning to normal. She said each day she is excited to be on campus interacting with her amazing colleagues and students. She said that she and her colleagues are committed to doing what is necessary to stay safe on campus and make sure there is a safe return in the fall.

Rector Hatten thanked Dr. Rizova for her dedication and the hard work of all the faculty. He said unlike so many other schools, our faculty want to be in the classroom teaching in-person.

Motion for Sabbatical

Rector Hatten said that he has spent a lot time with the President over the last few months and he has had to make a lot of difficult decisions in these challenging times.

Rector Hatten moved that the President be granted a sabbatical for six months starting February 16, 2021 and ending August 16, 2021. He said that President Trible has now served with extraordinary success for over 25 years and has earned this opportunity. Rector Hatten explained that President Trible has asked for this time to support and encourage his wife Rosemary who is going through a difficult medical situation fighting a rare autoimmune disease.

He also reported that President Trible will use this sabbatical time to write about the transformation of Christopher Newport and he will return to campus in August and resume his responsibilities. He said that over the next 6 months, CNU would be led by a wonderful team of professionals and said that Ms. Adelia Thompson will continue to serve as Chief of Staff and will be acting CEO of the university during this sabbatical.

Rector Hatten welcomed the President’s comments and comments from the Board. Rector Hatten called for a second to his motion which was provided by Ms. McKnight.

Rector Hatten said that no one has worked harder or achieved more than President Trible in his life’s work and commitment. He said that the President’s priorities are correct and this motion is made so that he may give his attention to his first priority, Rosemary. Rector Hatten said he has 100% confidence this sabbatical will have no effect on the university’s success and President Trible will return refreshed and hopefully, with his wife treated and healed and they can continue their work together. He believes this is in the university’s and President’s best interest.

President Trible said that Rosemary has been the joy and love his life and she has contributed decisively to everything that has been accomplished at Christopher. President Trible expressed his gratitude for the Board’s consideration.

Rector Hatten called for a vote on his motion. The motion to approve the President’s Sabbatical was approved unanimously by roll call vote of the Board.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.

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