Dear Members of the Saint Mary's Community.
At the beginning of fall 2008, our 146th year and our 80th year in Moraga, the College has achieved several important milestones.
The College has enrolled a record new undergraduate student class of 799 students (675 freshmen and 124 transfers). It includes more academic honors students than in previous years, a significant increase in international students, rich student diversity, more students from our Lasallian partner institutions and meets our 25 percent Pell grant target. Information on total undergraduate enrollment will be available later this week.
In line with reports from other institutions of higher education and the broader economy, financial need among our student population rose sharply over the past year with a concomitant increase in financial aid expenditures. Early indications suggest that we will expend record totals in financial aid this year.
Implementation of the Strategic Plan continues this year with a number of tasks underway and completed. I have recently appointed a Committee on Strategic Plan Review and Assessment. This committee will monitor and assess the progress made in executing the Strategic Plan and also recommend assessment measures for the execution of the Strategic Plan with a focus on educational, administrative and institutional effectiveness. Roy Allen and Chris Sindt are the co-chairs of this committee.
Concrete activities to address issues of civility and campus climate are continuing. At this time, we have presented preliminary results from the campus climate survey and are preparing a full report for review by the campus. We have drafted response protocols for acts of intolerance on campus. We provided inclusive excellence modules for new faculty and staff orientations as well as the all-staff and all-faculty days in August. We have launched a model intercultural dialogue program which will continue throughout the coming year. More than 30 people have participated. Thanks are due to our provost, Beth Dobkin, and others, including the College Committee for Inclusive Excellence, for continued leadership on these issues.
In the area of development, the College received a $500,000 unrestricted gift from alumnus Paul Boschetto '76. In recognition of his family's generosity over many years, the grassy area to the south of Galileo Hall has been renamed the Boschetto Family Grove.
More than 700 alumni and friends, the most in five years, connected with classmates this summer at the College's annual reunion festivities. The vice president for development, Keith Brant, will be spearheading aggressive efforts in fundraising, which will include more involvement of the faculty and staff.
I offer my thanks to the more than forty faculty and staff who participated in a variety of mission-related activities and workshops during the summer months. These events ranged from the Lasallian Higher Education Conference in Rome, to Lasallian social justice projects with San Francisco homeless and immigrants in El Paso/Juarez, to a series of Lasallian conferences here on the Saint Mary's campus. I thank also those who came to the staff in-service day on the Feast of the Assumption, and the many faculty who attended the faculty work day in late August.
This summer's campus power outage (not to mention the recent impact of Hurricane Gustav on the Gulf coast) illustrated the importance of emergency planning. I have directed the President's Cabinet to focus on emergency planning during the coming year. We have already strengthened our emergency management plan and are in the process of identifying a firm to assist with an audit of our institutional emergency planning process. I'll share reports on this process during the coming year.
At its May meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the preliminary plans for an addition to the library as well as renovation of the current space. Several other major facility improvement projects are underway and include the Oliver Hall kitchen addition, the ground floor of Augustine Hall and the first floor of De La Salle Hall. Numerous other projects are underway or about to get underway. Updates on all of these projects are communicated weekly in the SMC Bulletin.
And finally, I wish to thank all of the faculty, staff, students and alumni who have offered their good wishes and prayers for my continued good health. I want you to know that I am under very good medical care, and after several procedures requiring brief hospitalization, I am feeling fine and have regained my energy (and a regular heartbeat!)
We have many opportunities and challenges before us, and I am confident that with the participation and cooperation of the entire community, we will make great progress during this and coming years.
My best wishes for a fruitful and successful academic year.
In St. La Salle,
Br. Ronald Gallagher, FSC