Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors Meeting December 10, 2021

The Board of Visitors met on December 10, 2021 in the Freeman Center, Room 201, with Rector Robert R. Hatten presiding.

Present from the Board

  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq.
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Ms. Terri M. Mcknight, CPA
  • Hon. Gabriel A. Morgan, Sr.
  • Ms. Christy T. Morton
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Dr. Lee Vreeland
  • Dr. Ella Ward
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason

Absent from the Board

  • Ms. Regina Brayboy
  • Mr. Sean Miller

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. Maureen Matsen, University Counsel
  • Ms. Mary Romanello, Student Government Association President
  • Dr. Johnny Finn, Faculty Senate Vice-President
  • Mr. Jim Hanchett, Cheif Communications Officer

Others

  • Mr. Joshua Grimes, Captains Log
  • Ms. Sierra Jenkins, Daily Press

Rector Hatten welcomed everyone present. Rector Hatten reported that he had met with Governor Northam and discussed the upcoming budget needs of the University and said that the state has a significant surplus. He said that the amendments to the budget will be published on December 16 and he will report on the outcome of our budget requests.

Rector Hatten said that a ceremony was held at the University in which President Trible was honored with the Laurel Crowned Circle Award from Omicron Delta Kappa. He explained that this is the highest honor bestowed by the national leadership society. He told the Board that he, Ms. Cindi Perry and Mr. Alan Witt were inducted as honorary members of ODK.

Rector Hatten reported that he had several meetings with Ms. Deb Love, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Education Section, who is in charge of searches for university presidents. He said that Ms. Love would be the advisor to our search committee and at the first meeting she will provide an overview of the rules and responsibilities of the committee and, as necessary, will consult with us regarding the contract with the consulting firm and ultimately the contract with the next president and any other matters related to the search.

Approval of Minutes

Rector Hatten called for approval of the minutes of the September 24, 2021 Board meeting. Ms. Wason provided the motion, seconded by Ms. Morton, and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

President’s Report

President Trible began with the good news that the CNU’s women soccer team are national champions and he said that they are the only team in the country in Division III to be undefeated. He recognized Athletic Director Kyle McMullin and Coach Jamie Gunderson and congratulated them on this accomplishment. Mr. McMullin thanked Coach Gunderson for his leadership of our extraordinary soccer team.

President Trible shared several recent accolades. He said a team of our Leadership students once again won the International Leadership Association Case Competition and also two teams of PLP students swept first and second places in the inaugural student case study competition at VMI’s Leadership and Ethics Conference. Two teams of Physics and Computer Science students won the top two places at a computer programming competition recently. He said that the MAT Program has been a huge success and the Newport News Public Schools have hired 44 of our graduating seniors.

He said the Wason Center has had a great year and launched a host of new initiatives as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Distinguished Virginians Program was established which brings to campus men and women who have distinguished themselves in public service. The first group included Senator Jennifer McClellen, Virginia Supreme Court Justice Bill Mims, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and Ms. Molly Ward, former Virginia Secretary for Natural Resources. He said that this spring we will formally celebrate the 10th anniversary of Judy and Harry Wason’s visionary leadership.

President Trible told the Board that CNU was awarded an honor for the vaccine clinic that was held on our campus. The Peninsula’s Emergency Medical Services Council presented the award to Director of Emergency Management, Ms. Tammy Sommer and Ms. Amie Dale, Executive Director of University Events.

As far as COVID numbers on campus, he reported that as of today there are 15 active cases -- 13 students and 2 employees -- and about half of those are breakthrough cases. However, for most of the semester case numbers have remained in the single digits. President Trible reported that masks are still required indoors and the vaccination rate remains high – 95% of our students are fully vaccinated – and those who are not are tested each week. He also noted that more than 92% of faculty and staff are vaccinated.

President Trible was pleased to report that campus life has thrived this semester. This semester CNU hosted Family Weekend, Homecoming, our 60th Anniversary Celebration with Symphony Under the Stars and the grand opening of the Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center. He also noted that life in residence in halls returned to almost normal.

President Trible reported that the hourly minimum wage for Christopher Newport employees was raised from $10.50 an hour to $13 an hour. In order to further our hiring efforts, a job fair was held in October and nearly 150 people attended that event. President Trible said that since the first of September, 84 new employees have been hired with the majority in dining, facilities, housing and police.

President Trible provided an update on the state budget saying that the Commonwealth has a huge surplus of funds. Christopher Newport’s operating requests range from improving our technology infrastructure to increasing wages for our student workers to increasing need-based financial aid. In addition, a substantial request has also been made for recurring support for the Community Captains Program. He said that two capital projects were submitted – the third phase of the integrated science center to facilitate our growing student numbers in the STEM disciplines and the building to replace the old SunTrust building which houses a number of administrative offices.

In regard to admission, President Trible said that we have now been able to bring students and families to campus and the attendance and visits have reached the numbers seen in fall 2019. He said that a number of recruiting events have recently taken place including our annual events at the Jefferson Hotel. Over 100 high school counselors attended a luncheon, 500 guests attended a reception for prospective students and an alumni holiday party hosted more than 125 people. Alumni are also being engaged by hosting holiday parties across the state and there has been a record number of attendees.

He reported that 175 students have completed their degrees this semester and will be honored at an event to be held in the Peebles Theater. He said that the Career Center posted nearly 25,000 internships and job opportunities for our students and alumni. In addition, they hosted 4 recruitment events this fall with over 700 students participating and nearly 80 organizations in attendance.

President Trible was pleased to report that our Study Abroad program is experiencing a robust rebound. This summer and spring there will be 16 short term CNU-led study abroad programs as well as our semester-long program at the University of Glasgow.

President Trible said that this year all of our students performed community service at a number of non-profit organizations that serve our neighbors. He noted that serving others is an all-important value that we want to instill in our students and we want our students to engage and invest in this community. Another example of service was our students gathering clothes, coats and shoes for the Afghan refugees.

The Community Captains Program continues to be an important outreach to Newport News to providing promising young people an opportunity to come and flourish on our campus. Cohort two was recruited last year and this spring these students will come to campus for a series of programs and workshops and many of them are enrolled in the Statistics or Writing class that we offer free of charge. He said that cohort three is being recruited now from all six Newport News high schools.

This fall our field hockey volleyball and men’s soccer all competed in the NCAA tournament. He said that women’s basketball is off to a wonderful start with a 9-0 record and they are ranked #6 in the nation. Men’s basketball is currently ranked #17. He announced the new head coach of football is a CNU alum, Paul Crowley. He has coached at Christopher Newport and with Jammie Laycock at William and Mary. A new coach has been hired for the sailing program, Drew Phillips, who is an accomplished collegiate sailor from Old Dominion.

President Trible said the Ferguson Center is once again offering a number of wonderful performances with some of the finest performing artists in the world with packed audiences. He told the Board the Ferguson Center worked with a company of Broadway professionals to create the studio cast album of a new musical, *The Violet Hour.* If all goes as planned, the show will have a try-out in a regional theater and hopefully go on to Broadway. The Torggler Fine Arts Center opened with great celebration and in the first weeks over 2,000 patrons have visited the Center. The Exhibition Night Light which is a combination of 5 different artists’ creations is a take-your-breath-away experience.

The fundraising goal for this fiscal year is $6 million and President Trible reported that close to $4 million has already been raised. He told the Board that recently the university received a bequest intention pledge for $1 million that will provide support for Community Captains and the arts. In addition, he said that athletics also has been a recipient of several new major gifts and we are grateful that alumni, parents and friends continue to provide new scholarship support. Parent giving is at an all-time high in the number of parents and families participating in the President’s Parent Council and in the amount of monies raised.

President Trible said that this is our 60th anniversary year and we are trying to make the most of it and make time for appropriate celebrations. He reported that Mr. Jim Hanchett, Chief Communication Officer, has made great contributions to our success, however, he will be leaving to take a job at Cornell University and President Trible thanked him for his leadership. Mr. Bruce Bronstein will fill in on an interim bases while still leading the Ferguson Center. President Trible thanked all his colleagues and faculty for all of their hard work and dedication especially in these challenging and difficult times.

Rector Hatten thanked President Trible for his comprehensive report. He said that this gives an indication of how hard it will be to find the dedication and energy and success of President Trible in a future president. He said that President Trible leads a life with the highest level of service to our country and has created a magnificent university. Rector Hatten said that President Trible leads with charisma, talent and excellence -- and has done so for 26 years –and is an example to everyone and will be impossible to replace.

Operations, Audit and Risk

Rector Hatten asked Ms. Terri McKnight to report on matters relating to Operations, Audit and Risk. Ms. McKnight said the Committee has a number of important items and she is pleased to be meeting as a full Board. Ms. McKnight asked Ms. Michelle Moody, Director of Title IX and Equal Opportunity, to present her annual report to the Board.

Title IX Report

Ms. Moody reviewed history of Title IX the substantial changes to the regulations by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Title IX. She said the regulations prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment and misconduct. She said that CNU chose to have 2 procedures to address all the same potential policy violations as were previously included in Christopher Newport’s policy. Our internal process includes matters that are not covered under Title IX such as incidents happening off campus or during study abroad programs. She said that the current administration is reviewing these regulations and anticipate having new proposed regulations between May and August with changes coming into effect in 2023. She said that changes to the CNU policy this year were minimal and they involved clarification to policies and procedures and the addition of military status to the non-discrimination statement.

Ms. Moody reported that there was only one request for formal process under the policy which involved a sexual assault violation and the party was found not responsible. Ms. Moody said her office is now fully staffed with 2 employees in addition to herself. She said that 100% of our employees completed the required training and the freshmen students had a 95.5% completion rate. She contributes this huge success to the culture of CNU and the values held by President and Mrs. Trible. Ms. Moody listed the many awareness programs that are held each year notably the Fear 2 Freedom Be the Change event and Shadow Event hosted with Mrs. Trible.

President Trible thanked Ms. Moody for her good work in very tough situations and thanked the faculty and staff and students for their leadership and assistance.

Crisis and Emergency Management Plan

Ms. McKnight asked Ms. Latour to review with the Board the Crisis and Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). Ms. Latour provided an executive summary of the CEMP. She explained that the Code of Virginia requires all public colleges and universities to develop, adopt and keep current a written CEMP. Although, the plan is updated annually as necessary, the Code requires a comprehensive review of the plan and adoption of the plan by the Board every four years.

Ms. Latour explained that the plan is developed with an all hazards planning approach and provides strategic and operational policy, guidance and procedure for incidents that could adversely impact the university. She reviewed the four annexes of CEMP – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Ms. Latour recognized Ms. Tammy Sommer for her preparation of this very important plan.

Mr. Ermatinger said he was very interested in the CEMP and thanked Ms. Latour, Ms. Sommer and their team for their hard work. Mr. Ermatinger suggested tabletop exercises and clarification in the plan on who is in charge in the incident of an emergency when the senior leaders cannot be reached. Ms. Sommer said that an exercise is typically conducted twice a year but could not do that last year due to COVID. This year a discussion based exercise planned which will go through the details of the plan taking place in two different emergency situations. She explained that the emergency management team is the backup for the emergency management group. Ms. McKnight made a motion to approve RESOLUTION 1: Crisis and Emergency Management Plan. Rector Hatten called for further discussion or questions and then called for a second to the motion. Ms. Ward provided the second and Resolution 1 was passed by unanimous vote of the Board.

University Retirement Plan

Chairwoman McKnight asked Ms. Latour to review the changes to the University’s Retirement Plan.

Ms. Latour explained that the University offers employees the opportunity to participate in a supplemental Tax Deferred Savings Program and a Cash Match Plan in addition to the retirement plans offered by the Commonwealth. She said the executive summary highlights the changes to the two plans which have been updated to accurately reflect our operational procedures and ensures we are in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. She said the changes allow employers the ability to introduce additional retirement features such as allowing employees the option to access their fund without penalty during a hardship or a birth or adoption. Also student employees are now eligible to participate in these plans.

She said that the University Retirement Committee is responsible for ensuring fiduciary compliance of university plans. The Committee has engaged CAPTRUST, a nationally recognized investment advisor, who meets with the committee quarterly to review vendor offerings, investment portfolios and any associated fees. A major change in the management of the retirement plan is moving from each employee holding an individual contract with the vendor to a group contract. This change allows the Retirement Plan Committee to negotiate and make changes to the investments on behalf of all employees.

Ms. McKnight said these changes require Board action and moved for the approval of RESOLUTION 2: Tax Deferred Savings and Program and RESOLUTION 3: Cash Match Plan Amendment. Rector Hatten called for a second to the motion which was provided by Ms. Herbert. There being no further discussion or questions, the Board unanimously approved RESOLUTIONS 2 and 3.

Chairwoman McKnight provided the Board with and Internal Audit Update. She was pleased to report that the IT Auditor position has been filled and the office is fully staffed. She said that SysAudits consulting firm has been engaged for the performance of the Disaster Recovery Planning audit.

She reported that the Laboratory Safety audit fieldwork reporting phase and the disaster recovery audit planning phases are underway. Ms. McKnight also said that the Admission audit is complete and all remaining audit points have been closed. In addition, athletics is continuing to work on their open audit points related to the NCAA audit. Lastly, she said that the entrance conference with the Auditors of Public Accounts was recently held for the fiscal year 2021 financial statement audit.

Student Government Report

Ms. Mary Romanello, the Student Government President, paid tribute to a classmate, Nathan Dean, who recently passed away. She said the students have been working to respond to a recent insensitive tweet which especially affected the LGBTQ+ community. They hosted an open forum which was designed to make a safe space for all of our students to express their feelings. The SGA compiled the responses from the open forum and met with multiple organizations and administrators addressing their concerns.

Ms. Romanello reported that the SGA and the Center for Community Engagement hosted their first day of service and they also participated in the annual food for thought campaign. She also said the SGA partnered with the Office of Counseling Services and hosted a stress relief workshop during final weeks for our students. She reported that a town hall meeting hosted by SGA, RHA and SDEC will be held at the beginning of the semester for the students to reflect on the past semester and share any concerns they may have. She was also excited to report that the annual staff appreciation day will be held on March 25. Ms. Romanello said she is working with the administration to provide safer crosswalks on Warwick Boulevard and she attended a City Council meeting to shed light on this problem and offered a suggestion that the crosswalks be lighted. She said the City Council was responsive and interested in working with CNU to make the crosswalks safer. She recognized Josh Grimes who is a delegate of SGA and chief editor of Captains Log for his support and commitment. Rector Hatten thanked Ms. Romanello and said he appreciates her commitment to the culture of a community of kindness and the participation with local government addressing potential problems on campus.

Faculty Senate Report

Dr. Johnny Finn, Faculty Senate Representative, said that the Senate has had a very eventful and productive semester. He reported that the Senate has created three new ad hoc committees to review existing policies and practices and will make recommendations on behalf of faculty. He said that the Senate recreated for the second year the committee on Diversity Equity and Inclusion. He said the Faculty Senate is researching and brainstorming improvements that can be made to recruit and retain more diverse faculty members. Dr. Finn said that the second subcommittee is the EVAL4 Task Force. The EVAL4 is a document used in faculty evaluations in terms of research, creativity, teaching, service, etc. They are revisiting this document to think through the impacts of the pandemic and DEI matters as those relate to faculty contracts and evaluations. He said they are working to create an environment where all faculty, regardless of contract type, are adequately and equally represented by their leadership. Dr. Finn said the faculty continue to work with and make recommendations the Budget Advisory Committee and University Strike Force. He said that although teaching has returned to in-person, the faculty continue to navigate the challenges of the last months of virtual classes.

Ratification of By-Laws Change

Rector Hatten reminded the Board that at the last meeting once President Trible announced his retirement that a review of the by-laws was undertaken. It was determined the by-laws as it relates to the Presidential Search Committee needed to be updated to more adequately reflect the current state of the university and the constituencies that it serves. The change increases the size of the committee from 6 to 16 and the membership will be a majority of Board members. Rector Hatten called for a motion to approve the by-laws change as presented. Ms. Wason provided the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Morton. Rector Hatten called for discussion and questions, following which RESOLUTION 4: Revision to the University By-Laws was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Search Committee

Rector Hatten explained that he was researching what the legal requirements are for the procedures associated with a presidential search. He said that typically a consultant is hired, the objectives of the search are defined and the qualities, characteristics and skills of potential candidates are outlined. Rector Hatten asked Ms. Matsen to provide an overview of the process.

Ms. Matsen explained the role of Ms. Deb Love, Senior Assistant Attorney General. She said that the Attorney General’s office years ago decided to appoint another counsel to presidential search committees to avoid any conflict of interest with in-house counsel. She said that Ms. Love will deal primarily with confidentiality and freedom of information matters and assist with the negotiating of the contract with the identified candidate. Ms. Matsen said that the state has consultants already on contract, so that the universities do not have to go through a long procurement process. She said the Board will have to develop a charge for the committee and a timeline will have to be developed. A university website will be created with information about the search.

Rector Hatten said he intends to appoint the search committee today and have the first meeting in early January. At that meeting they will meet with a consultant to begin the process and will bring to the Board a charge from the committee at the February 4 meeting. He said the committee has ample time for the search to take place. Ms. Thompson will serve as interim president from August 2022 until the end of July 2023. The committee will identify two or three candidates to bring before the Board for consideration. Rector Hatten said that this longer time period allows for time to develop relationships and learn the culture of Christopher Newport.

Rector Hatten explained his criteria for selecting members of the search committee. Although, all Board members would provide meaningful contributions, he felt it important to appoint members who will remain on the Board at the time the candidate is chosen. All members of the Board will be engaged in this process.

With regard to faculty, he had originally thought he would only request one person but in consideration of how important academics are to this institution, he decided two members of faculty should be chosen. He told the Board he appointed Dr. Rachel Holland and Dr. Tatiana Rizova to serve on the committee because they are already leaders among the faculty and the Board has had a relationship with them through the years. Rector Hatten said that appointing members who alumni was also important in his consideration because he wants to be certain the culture of the university is maintained. He also thought it was important to have representation from past leaders of the Board and he announced that he has appointed Mr. Scott Millar, Mr. Alan Witt and Mr. Mike Martin, President of the Real Estate Foundation, all former Rectors of the Board. From the staff, he said that he appointed Ms. Jamilia Shipman, Senior Director of Foundation, Corporation and Special Gifts Programs. He said that Ms. Shipman is an alum who attended CNU during President Trible’s tenure and Ms. Thompson said she is well known and respected across campus.

Two exceptions were made to the Board appointments to the committee. Rector Hatten said he chose Mr. Brad Hunter since he is Vice Rector and would serve in his capacity as Chairman in his absence and he also is an alum. He told the Board he also appointed Mr. Bill Ermatinger who, along with Scott Millar, provide expertise in Human Resources which will be invaluable to the search process. Additional Board members appointed are Ms. Maria Herbert, Mr. Steve Kast, Ms. Terri McKnight, Ms. Christy Morton, Ms. Lindsey Carney Smith and Ms. Judy Wason. He said he would appoint a student representative in the near future.

The Buffkin Baker group is a consulting firm that has been used successfully in the past and Ms. Adelia Thompson, Mr. Rob Lange, Mr. Jim Hanchett and Ms. Holly Koons, were all hired through the good work of Buffkin Baker. The Baker group will make a presentation at the first search committee meeting and if the committee is satisfied with their presentation there will be a vote to either hire them or bring in other consulting firms to consider.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.

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