Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting September 24, 2021

The Board of Visitors met on September 24, 2021 in the Freeman Center, Room 201, with Rector Robert R. Hatten presiding.

Present from the Board

  • Ms. Regina Brayboy
  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq.
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • Mr. Sean D. Miller
  • Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Dr. Lee Vreeland
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason

Absent from the Board

  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Dr. Ella P. Ward

Present from the University

  • Paul Trible, President
  • Ms. Adelia Thompson, Chief of Staff
  • Dr. David Doughty, Provost
  • Ms. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Finance and Planning and CFO
  • Ms. Christine Ledford, Vice President for Administration and Auxiliary Service
  • Mr. Keith Roots, Vice President for University Advancement
  • Ms. Beverley Mueller, Executive Assistant
  • 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
  • Ms. Mary Romanello, Student Government Association President
  • Dr. Rachel Holland, Faculty Senate President
  • Ms. Amie Dale, Executive Director of University Events and Special Projects
  • Mr. Jim Hanchett, Chief Communications Officer

Rector Hatten welcomed everyone present. He also welcomed the newest Board members, Mr. Sean Miller and Dr. Lee Vreeland. Mr. Miller and Dr. Vreeland introduced themselves and each of the Board members also introduced themselves.

Special Recognition

President Trible introduced “Miss Linda” Carter who is retiring after 19 years of service. Miss Linda began her career as an hourly employee in Dining Services and ultimately became Auxiliary Services Ambassador. She has conducted admission tours for thousands of prospective students and their families in the DSU and has helped with recruitment for our athletic teams. Miss Linda knows and loves our students and everyone on campus knows and loves Miss Linda.The Board gave Miss Linda a standing ovation.

Approval of Minutes

Rector Hatten called for approval of the minutes of the June 11, 2021 full Board meeting and the second meeting for the President’s Annual Review.Ms. Herbert provided the motion, seconded by Ms. Morton, and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

President’s Report

President Trible said that he and Rosemary are excited to begin their 26th academic year. He also thanked the Board for allowing him to take time to care for Rosemary during her illness. He said her autoimmune disorder is now quiescent and she working to rebuild her muscles and is gaining strength and is working on endurance. He said that they have received hundreds of expressions of good wishes for which they are most grateful.

President Trible thanked Ms. Adelia Thompson for her leadership during his sabbatical and that of the entire senior team for their extraordinary job of caring for the university over the last six months.

President Trible told the Board that he had contracted the delta variant of COVID and it Causes severe illness and is highly contagious. He said that he quarantined at home for 10 days and is much better now. As far as COVID on campus, he said that our positive number of cases are low and noted that most everyone on campus has been vaccinated. Those students and faculty who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated are tested on a weekly basis.Masks and social distancing are required indoors.

Now that our students are back on campus, he said our athletic teams are actively practicing and participating in competition, Setting Sail and Welcome Week programs were in person and were tremendously successful. He also said that every member of the freshman class, joined by dozens of faculty and staff, participated in a Day of Service working at numerous non-profit organizations throughout our community.He underscored the value that Christopher Newport places on community service.

Two Honors Convocations were recently held for our freshmen and sophomores however, the freshmen desserts were postponed this semester and will be planned for a later date when larger gatherings do not pose a threat of spreading the virus.

President Trible said that Christopher Newport continues to expand its reach and reputation as we have moved up in rankings in U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review.Princeton Review’s profile is based on responses to surveys of students and they feature quotes about the schools. President Trible shared a few of those comments about Christopher Newport with the Board.

President Trible reported on the activities of the Wason Center for Civic Leadership. He said that the Wason Center welcomed its inaugural class of Distinguished Virginians to inform and inspire our students to be the next generation of civic leaders. This program brings to campus prominent civic leaders from across the commonwealth several times a semester where they make presentations and also meet one-on-one with our students. Those leaders include Virginia Supreme Court Justice Bill Mims, Senator Jennifer McClellan, and former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock among others. He said that Judy and Harry Wason are powerful examples of civic leaders. The Wason Center has been expanding its activities with the generous support of Judy and Harry and the Wason Scholars program has been established into which we welcomed our first nine students.

He said on the Tech Talent Initiative (Amazon) that CNU was included in the first round of awardees and was the only non-doctoral institution to be honored. In return for the monies awarded, CNU is required to increase the number of computer science and computer engineering graduates to 400 over the next 20 years and we have met and exceeded our goals each year.

President Trible said that the Luter School is ranked as a top 50 business school. He said that the Luter School requires all of our graduating seniors to take the Business Major Field test and they ranked in the 96th percentile – the top 4% of the nation. He also said that Dean George Ebbs announced his retirement and Mr. Alan Witt has been named as his successor, who is currently serving as Executive in Residence.

President Trible said CNU has worked very hard to increase the number of our students gaining acceptance into medical school and this year there are 36 matriculating in prestigious schools across the country.

For the first time in two years, the university community was able to come together for the President’s State of the University Address. During that event, Ms. Cindi Perry and Mr. Bill Brauer, who recently retired, received Honorary Degrees for their extraordinary service to Christopher Newport.

President Trible said that he met with several hundred colleagues to say thank you to all those people who worked faithfully since the arrival of COVID, the people on the frontlines who could not stay at home because it was necessary for them to be on campus. He said that these employees received a check for their efforts. He also said that we have a huge number of vacancies due to COVID and we are very thinly staffed. In an effort to recruit more employees, the hiring process is being streamlined and CNU will hold a job fair on October 12. In addition, the minimum wage was increased from $10.50 an hour to $13.00 an hour beginning on October 1st. In order to pay our employees more competitively, an HR consulting company will be engaged to conduct a market analysis and to evaluate our pay scale and contrast that to the private sector.

President Trible said that we have just over 1,000 new freshmen and their average GPA is 3.8 and the average SAT score of this class is 1214. He also noted that 26% of the class are students of color. He said he was pleased that we can now begin to bring prospective students and their families back to our campus. He added that our 4-year graduation rate continues to be strong and is projected to be around 70%.

President Trible said the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is continuing to enhance our efforts to focus on diversity and inclusion with the leadership of Sheriff Morgan who is chair of that Council. Dr. Angela Spranger, the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, has worked to ensure that inclusive excellence is a goal embraced by everyone. There has been a broad array of initiatives to recruit, retain and engage students, staff and faculty of color and new partnerships with corporations for internships, scholarships and job opportunities for our students. He said a campus-wide education program was also launched and it has received great reviews.

The Community Captains program brings students with great promise to our campus from the Newport News school system. These students are mostly first generation students. While at CNU, these students learn about the college application process and are exposed to many activities on campus. He said the first cohort of Community Captains graduated from high school and 19 of those students are members of our freshman class. Among those are five students from Achievable Dream, including their valedictorian and salutatorian. President Trible thanked the leadership of Sheriff Morgan who chairs the council, Ms. Herbert who is a member of the Council and the past Chair of the Council Mr. Hunter.

President Trible said our athletic teams all had a chance to compete at some level last year and this year there is a full return to practices, games and tournaments. He noted that our women’s soccer team is ranked 4th in the nation. President Trible said that recently Matt Kelchner, who created our football program, was honored and the football field was named for Coach Kelchner.

In respect to capital projects, President Trible said that the renovations to Ratcliffe Hall are close to being completed and that the Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center is set to open on October 31. In addition, two capital projects are in the planning process - the next phase of the science facility, Luter 2 – and a successor building to the old CNU/Suntrust building at the corner of Hiden and Warwick Boulevards.

This year the Ferguson Center will host a remarkable line-up of artists and the season will kick off with one of the most popular recording artists in the world – Josh Groban. The Torggler Center had a soft opening over the summer when we began our outreach to the community and nearly 400 children participated in summer camps for the visual arts. There will be at least 4 major exhibitions through the course of the year.

President Trible laid out the objectives for the coming year which include advancing the important work of the DEI programs, opening the Torggler Fine Arts Center, addressing the significant vacancies in staffing and finding ways to pay our employees more, and reclaiming our position on the admission landscape. He also said we will strive for our study abroad program to regain its momentum; raise $6 million; complete the renovation of Ratcliffe Hall and move forward with the Luter expansion and the old CNU/Suntrust building; celebrate our 60th anniversary and expand our reach and reputation.Finally, he said that we will hold up the life of significance as the hallmark of CNU reminding our students of what true leadership, honor and service mean and why those things are so important.

60th Anniversary, Communications, Public Relations and University Events

Mr. Jim Hanchett, Chief Communications Officer, shared with the Board the many ways that his team, is telling the marvelous stories of Christopher Newport University. He said they work closely with the Office of Admission to promote the President’s Leadership Program and Honors Program and create ways to invite prospective students and their families to campus. He said that currently they are working diligently to promote the opening of the new Torggler Fine Arts Center and building a website and a marketing structure for the exhibits and programs that will be offered. Mr. Hanchett highlighted many of the accomplishments of the university and how the Office of Communications and Public Relations (OCPR) is marketing that information by producing publications, utilizing social media, creating videos, news releases, etc. He said that social media has no reached 30,000 people a day and the CNU Facebook page is at the highest level of engagement of any university in America. He outlined the numerous jobs that OCPR handles for the entire university.

Ms. Amie Dale, Executive Director of University Events and Special Projects, gave a detailed presentation of events planned for the 60th Anniversary of the University throughout the year. She said that given the pandemic, adjustments to all events have been made to provide for the safety of all in attendance. She said that banners promoting the 60th Anniversary and CNU values are being placed throughout campus and we will tie our values to our celebrations. She mentioned several milestones including the 10th anniversary of Wason Center and the 16th anniversary of the Ferguson Center. She told the Board we will once again be able to have Symphony Under the Stars which is open to our entire community. She shared with the Board the new exhibit that will be debuted at the Torggler Center – Night Lite. Ms. Dale also said that the University was called upon to help with supplying clothes to the Afghan refugees and CNU responded quickly and amazingly filling the field house with needed supplies.

Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting

Ms. Lindsey Carney Smith presented the Committee report. She said that Ms. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Finance and Planning and CFO, reviewed the University’s Six-Year Plan for 2022-2028 which is required by the Commonwealth every other year to be submitted to SCHEV and the plan must have Board approval. The plan covers strategic goals, enrollment projections as well as revenues and expenditures. The state also asks for the academic and financial plans that would be funded through tuition revenue and General Fund dollars and covers capital budget projects. Ms. Smith said that if we receive no additional state funding next year, a substantial tuition increase would be required in FY23 and again in FY24. This would be the worst case scenario. The Committee chair has suggested that the preliminary plan for no increase in fees be updated to reflect a potential 2% increase in room and board allowing some flexibility. Ms. Smith said that RESOLUTION 1: Six-Year Plan for 2022-2028 comes to the Board at the recommendation of the Committee. Rector Hatten called for discussion or questions concerning the Resolution, following which the Resolution was passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

Ms. Smith said that Ms. Latour reviewed the Annual Debt Service Report with the Committee as well as the Statement of Revenues and Expenses. Ms. Christine Ledford, Vice President for Administration and Auxiliary Services, presented the resolutions of Level II Application in Procurement and the FY22 Annual SWaM Procurement Plan. Ms. Smith said that the University now has autonomy from Richmond in the areas of IT and Capital Outlay and is now eligible for autonomy in Procurement. The SWaM plan is related to this initiative and must be approved by the Board as a condition for Level II Procurement so that will be voted on first.

Rector Hatten said that RESOLUTION 3: FY22 Annual SWaM Procurement Plan comes to the Board at the recommendation of the Committee and he called for further discussion or questions. RESOLUTION 3 was then passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

Rector Hatten called for any discussion or questions regarding RESOLTUION 2: Level II Application in Procurement. RESOLUTION 2 was then passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

Ms. Smith said that Ms. Ledford covered the university capital projects underway and stated that the university is also planning for the maintenance and ongoing upkeep of our facilities. She said the next major building will be the replacement for the CNU/Suntrust Building and the expansion of Luter Hall.

Operations, Audit and Risk Committee Report

Chairman Ms. Terri McKnight said that Ms. Latour reviewed with the Committee the annual Agency Risk Management and Internal Control Standards report (ARMICS). She explained that ARMICS is a Commonwealth mandate that requires State Agencies to implement internal control standards and “best practices” to promote operational efficiency, ensure fiscal accountability and safeguard university and state assets by reducing the risk of fraud, waste or abuse. Ms. McKnight said that this review is conducted annually at a transactional level, and every three years at the university level. She was pleased to report that the annual review revealed no significant or insignificant weaknesses.

Ms. McKnight said the Committee also reviewed the Workforce Management and Succession Planning report. The Code of Virginia requires that each agency in the Executive Branch submit a report on their workforce which identifies the total number of employees, those who are eligible to retire within 5 years, employee’s length of service, and other metrics. The data reflected that Christopher Newport has quite a number of people employed between 20 and 43 years. Ms. McKnight said the Committee also received a biennial report on Spans of Control. This report indicates how many direct reports each supervisor has to determine management efficiency.

Ms. McKnight said the Committee reviewed Resolution 4: University Retirement Plan Committee. She said that previously the Retirement Plan Committee established members by both name and position. Over the years, many of the individuals on the Committee have changed and therefore Resolution 4 establishes membership by position and does not tie those positions to specific individuals.

Ms. McKnight said that the Resolution was approved by the Committee but would require a second since there was not a quorum at the meeting. Rector Hatten called for discussion and questions. He then called for a second to approve Resolution 4. The motion was provided by Mr. Morgan and the Resolution was passed unanimously.

Ms. McKnight said that the third search is underway for the IT Auditor position and will close on October 12. Ms. McKnight also said that utilizing cooperative state contract, requests for information have been sent to various consulting service providers to co-source the performance of the disaster recovery plan audit and the audit should be completed in the fall semester.

Ms. McKnight gave an updated on the status of audit issues and said the completion date for the Admission audit has been extended to November 1st. The NCAA audit report was provided in the Board materials and is scheduled for completion by July 1st.

Ms. McKnight told the Board that in regard to the state of organizational independence, the Director has confirmed that the internal audit activity is independent and objective in performing its work and that the auditors have maintained an impartial, unbiased attitude. There have been no personal conflict of interest or restrictions to access.

Resolution 5: Amendment to the Audit Committee Charter was reviewed by the Committee and the Resolution recommends an amendment to the Committee Charter due to the revised bylaw change regarding the responsibilities of the Operations, Audit and Risk Committee. She explained that a second is needed due to the lack of a quorum in Committee. Rector Hatten called for discussion or questions and then he called for a second to the motion. Mr. Morgan provided the second and Resolution 5 was passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

Lastly, Ms. McKnight reported on the annual Quality Assurance and Improvement Program Report. This report for this fiscal year assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of the internal audit activity and identified goals for FY22.

Academic Affairs Committee Report

Chairman Brad Hunter reported that this last year was the first year of our Master in Financial Analysis program and 18 full-time students entered the program and all of them graduated in May. This year there are 15 full-time students in the program.

Regarding the Tech Talent Initiative, he reported that last year Christopher Newport had a target of 69 STEM graduates and we produced 73. This year the projection was 72 graduates and we produced 82 graduates.

Mr. Hunter said that in respect to grants, CNU has had three straight years in which our faculty were awarded over $2 million in grants and are approaching $2 million per year of grant funding. He noted that 60 students participated in the Summer Research Scholars Program.

Regarding the Community Captains Program, Mr. Hunter reported that 19 students were in the entering cohort and five students were from Achievable Dream. He asked Dr. Vreeland to read a letter that was received from one of those students expressing their excitement about attending Christopher Newport. Finally he noted that we will be holding at 283 faculty positions this year and he shared an advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Chairman Hunter asked Provost Doughty to share about a proposed change in the curriculum and Resolution 6: New Degree Program, The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art and Art History. Provost Doughty explained that by establishing this degree, this will split the degree in Fine and Performing Art into two, more accurately reflecting these two degrees. Once this is approved by the Board, the proposal will be submitted to SCHEV and following, approval, a technical change will be submitted to change the Fine and Performing Art degree to just the Performing Arts. He noted that the timing of this change is perfect with the opening of the Torggler Fine Arts Center.

Mr. Hunter said the Resolution comes to the Board at the recommendation of the Committee. Rector Hatten called for discussion and questions. Resolution 6 then passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

Student Life Committee Report

Chairman Gabe Morgan expressed his appreciation for the leadership and hard work of Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines, Dr. Kevin Hughes and Mr. Rob Lange.

Chairman Morgan said the freshman class has 1,012 students enrolled which is slightly above the 1,000 that was anticipated. The freshman class has an average 3.8 GPA and 1214 SAT. He said there are 389 students enrolled in the President’s Leadership Program and 108 enrolled in Honors, accounting for 40% of the class. He also noted that there are 121 legacies and 26% of the class is comprised of students of color.

Chairman Morgan said that requiring the COVID shot has been instrumental in bringing the campus back on par and close to normal and 94% of all of our students are fully vaccinated with a very limited number being unenrolled for not being vaccinated.

Chairman Morgan said that career fairs are now being hosted on campus and that Accounting is hosting a career fair with 23 accounting firms being represented. He said that campus events are almost back to normal with the exception of restrictions regarding tailgating. Chairman Morgan said that the wonderful partnership with Riverside continues. Riverside tests our students on a regular basis for COVID with an average of 230 students per week. He said that CNU provides an option for our students to isolate and quarantine on campus should they test positive. As a final note, he said that counseling service numbers have increased, but CNU is doing a great job of caring for our students.

Advancement Committee Report

Chair Lindsey Carney Smith reported that our alumni and friends remain generous in supporting CNU. She said our financial goal was $4 million and that goal was surpassed by 30% raising $5.2 million. The alumni participation goal was 15% and there were 4,100 new alumni gifts and pledges.

Ms. Smith said that scholarships remain our greatest need and this year 10 new annual scholarships were created along with four new endowed scholarships. Also, the Community Captains Program received over $600,000 in new support. The fundraising goal for this year is $6 million and we are off to a good start with new gifts and pledges.

Ms. Smith said that the President’s Parent Council has been most generous with 114 families participating and 59 of those families have given at least $1,500. Introducing our Parent Council to families during the Setting Sail sessions in June has added to this success. The Torggler Fine Arts Center has created a new program to encourage supporters of the former Peninsula Fine Arts Center to become charter patrons of the Torggler and Anne Noland Edwards provided a significant gift to the Center.

Ms. Smith the Athletics Advisory Council is focused on generating support for the new opportunities and travel associated with championship experiences in our new Coast to Coast Conference. She said the Community Captains program has received a significant gift from the parents of a Luter School alumnus for the Community Captains Annual Scholarship. The Wason Center for Civic Leadership has new initiatives underway and also recently received a large donation for program support. Ms. Smith thanked Ms. and Mr. Wason for all they have done to make the Wason Center a major player in public policy and civic education.

Student Government Report

Ms. Mary Romanello, the Student Government President, said that the students are thrilled to be on campus and taking in-person classes. A recent annual event, Light the Night, was held and was well attend with COVID protocols in place. She said the SGA is excited to be partnering with the Center for Community Engagement to plan a day of service for the entire student body. She said the SGA is planning again this year a Staff Appreciation Day where faculty, staff and administrators are recognized. Ms. Romanello said the SGA has formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and they are sponsoring a Pronoun Day which seeks to educate individuals about the use of personal pronouns. The SGA is also working on having a gender neutral bathroom located in the DSU. Lastly, she said the SGA’s efforts with regard to sustainability continue.

Faculty Senate Report

Dr. Rachel Holland, President of the Faculty Senate said that the faculty are thrilled to be back in the classroom and engaging students and are eager to continue working with them on their research. She said there is an amazing energy on campus and the freshman class is very motivated.

The Faculty Senate has met and identified several initiatives for this academic year. She said the Faculty Senate will be making recommendations in the area of annual reviews and promotions and are promoting their efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion. They will also work in impacting student recruitment and student success. Dr. Holland said that a student from the SGA is now attending the Faculty Senate meetings and they will have a student present at each meeting in the future.

President Trible Announcement

President Trible thanked the members of his senior team for their extraordinary efforts on a daily basis, especially in recent months. He said they serve sacrificially and contribute immensely to making Christopher Newport so successful. Indeed, he said, everyone our campus makes Christopher Newport special.

President Trible then announced that he would be bringing his tenure at Christopher Newport to a close at the end of this academic year. His remarks are attached to the minutes.

Rector Hatten thanked President Trible for his service to the university for which he said the nation, state and university are most grateful.

Rector Hatten asked Ms. McKnight to entertain a motion to enter closed session under Freedom of Information Act Section 2.2.3711(a)(1) Personnel. Mr. Morgan provided the motion, seconded by Mr. Hunter and the motion passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

The Board returned to open session and Ms. Morton 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. Hunter, Ms. Wason, Ms. Herbert, Mr. Kast, Mr. Miller, Dr. Vreeland, Ms. Morton, Ms. Brayboy, Ms. Smith and Rector Hatten certified to the above.

Rector Hatten read his statement in response to President Trible’s announcement of his retirement and his statement is attached to the minutes.

Rector Hatten said that given President Trible’s announcement, the Board will establish a search committee to begin the process of hiring a new President. The current provision of the bylaws that governs the appointment of a presidential search committee does not accurately reflect the current size of the university community, the number of alumni, the diversity of the university and all of the different stakeholders of the University. Therefore, a bylaws amendment is proposed that the committee shall be chaired by the Rector and be composed of at least 15 members, seven members chosen from the Board and the remaining members selected among the various constituencies important to the university. Action on this change to the bylaws will take place at the next meeting of the Board.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.

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