Annual Report Message from President James Donahue

President Donahue works at his office desk.Investing in Our Future, our annual report for the 2016-17 fiscal year, salutes the many accolades and academic achievements of our stellar faculty and talented students over the past year. Importantly, it also underscores the College’s stability and considerable progress we’ve made in pursuit of the goals in Saint Mary’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020.   

Our distinguished faculty continued to be recognized for their outstanding academic research and scholarship, including Integral Professor Steven Cortright, who was named Professor of the Year. Other noteworthy faculty achievements for the year included the election of SMC’s Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry Brenda Hillman to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest learned societies. Additionally, research on communication methods in eldercare facilities by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Anna Corwin—one of our bright new young faculty members—was covered in several national media outlets.

Across our campus there were many examples of how we are living out our Lasallian, Catholic values. During our De La Salle Week Academic Convocation, we recognized Bethlehem University Vice Chancellor Brother Peter Bray, FSC, who reminded us of the importance of embracing hope, even when faced with adversity.  

Academic highlights that illustrated our Lasallian mission of an inclusive community included securing federal funding to promote diverse student success in the sciences through a Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM grant. And, we saw a significant increase in faculty diversity, announcing a near doubling of tenured and tenure-track black and African American faculty.

Our fundraising efforts were truly remarkable. Our Advancement team, led by Vice President Lisa Moore, raised $13.7 million during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, an 85 percent increase from the previous year. The College also saw a record-breaking 1Day1SMC 24-hour giving challenge in the spring, with more than 1,900 donors and $340,000 secured for the College. Campus partners, volunteers, and board leadership challenged our constituencies to meet our goal of 1,863 donors and our alumni, parents, and friends generously participated. These ongoing successes toward our philanthropic goals reflect continued strong donor and foundational support for this outstanding academic institution.

The College also marked a significant turning point in our town-gown relations. After years of work, which included community conversations, institutional outreach, and presentations before civic leaders, the Moraga Town Council unanimously approved our Campus Master Plan. It also authorized banners welcoming SMC’s class of 2021 to the College, and to Gael country. The cordial relations between Saint Mary’s and Moraga prompted a community news outlet to note that town-gown relations were at an all-time high.

With an eye toward the future, we recognized the growing challenges facing many liberal arts institutions across the nation. The rising volatility in the higher education market underscored the need for prudent approaches in our business operations. In order to meet the needs of students and continue to pursue the important goals within our strategic plan, we undertook appropriate steps to realign our resources to ensure Saint Mary’s is on firm financial ground. Those actions included implementing a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) for qualified employees and continuing our workforce planning initiatives to streamline redundancies.

Additionally, as a result of a successful institutional branding campaign, a vital part of our strategic plans, we surpassed the forecast for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The new academic year will have one of the largest first-year enrollments in the last five years. 

Investing In Our Future is more than the title of this annual report. It summarizes this community’s overall efforts this year in pursuing academic excellence, realizing our Lasallian Catholic mission and liberal arts tradition, and supporting our unwavering principles of inclusive community and respect for all persons. These SMC values are paramount in how we define ourselves as Lasallian educators and serve as a true compass for our collective endeavor to foster success in both the professional and personal lives of Saint Mary’s College students.

James Donahue