Board of Trustees Meet on January 23, 2020

Board of TrusteesSaint Mary’s Board of Trustees gathered for the first meeting of the new year on January 23, 2020. The General Session meeting included a presentation by President Donahue and reports from Trustees and cabinet members on the College’s financial health and facilities, strategic planning efforts, and student life matters. The Chair of the Academic Senate also reported on issues of concern for the faculty. Additionally, a panel of faculty and students shared their collaborative research and scholarship.  


  • President James Donahue reported on the completion of SMC’s successful Comprehensive Campaign, expressing his gratitude to everyone involved. He provided an update on the College’s stable economic outlook, academic distinctions, implementations of BAR Task Force recommendations, including developing external partnerships, such as with the new University Credit Union partnership. Additional updates included an overview of enrollment and admissions strategies, the new strategic plan development process, and ongoing crisis and incident response planning, including a campus-wide Incident Management Team active shooter drill scheduled for spring 2020. Donahue recognized numerous academic highlights, examples of the College’s commitment to its Lasallian Catholic mission, and the competitive performance of SMC’s talented student-athletes.
  • Vice President for Finance and Administration Susan Collins reported on SMC’s financial health, noting that tuition revenue shortfalls in the 2019–20 budget have been mitigated by strategically identifying savings from unfilled staff positions, class cancellations due to lower enrollments, and by reducing select operating expenses. Collins also reported on campus facilities improvements and noted that the SMC capital funding plan includes annual investments that will eventually equal depreciation. She also pointed out that over the past two years, the College has been able to invest substantially more in its capital budget.
  • Vice Provost for Student Academics and Dean of the Core Megan Mustain introduced panelists who addressed Learning, Scholarship, and Innovation at SMC. Moderated by Dean of the Library and Academic Resources and Director of the Museum of Art Lauren MacDonald, the panel featured undergraduate and graduate student scholars and their faculty mentors. They talked about the importance of student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship, and how the library has supported their efforts. Panel members included biochemistry major Matthew White, SOLA Assistant Professor Meghan Sweeney, SOS Associate Professor Sonya Schuh, Educational Leadership doctoral candidate Rochelle Hooks, and KSOE Associate Professor S. Marshall Perry.
  • Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Kasimatis, Co-Chair of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, along with Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Planning Corey Cook presented on the creation of the College’s next strategic plan. Observations included details about the planning process, which offers opportunities for the SMC community to create a bold vision for the future and a road map for achieving that vision. Cook engaged Trustees in working groups to address plan themes and offer perspectives on existing strengths at the College, uncover potential opportunities, highlight possible strategic goals or aspirations, and suggest measurable results for the initiative. The Board’s input will be shared with the Strategic Plan Steering Committee for consideration in the development of the plan’s first draft.
  • Academic Senate Chair and Anthropology Professor Jennifer Heung addressed the Board with updates from the Senate and the faculty. She reported on policies pertaining to shared governance, faculty salaries, the Rank and Tenure Task Force’s review of evaluation processes, progress made by the Intellectual Property Policy task force, faculty retention, and overall concerns about the challenges students and faculty (and the SMC community at large) faced in the fall semester and Jan Term as a result of power outages, fires, the false active shooter incident, and the most recent shooting in Moraga.  

  • The Board’s Student Life Committee reported on issues related to campus housing and the undergraduate student social experience. Discussion points included research about future housing for the campus and financial projections to be considered for future housing. After this information is prepared, both the Student Life and Finance Committees will be involved in the review of a proposed master plan. In a review of the undergraduate student social experience, the Committee identified key priorities, such as social activities, engagement, and social spaces. Steps to improve the student experience have included modifications to the 1928 Pub, expanded programs offered by the Campus Activities Board, and the hiring of an After Dark Program Coordinator. For programs that are costly, such as concerts or carnivals, the committee discussed with CAB the possibility of partnering with campus offices like Alumni Relations, New Student and Family Programs, and Athletics to offer programs with joint sponsorship. 


Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees is the College’s governing body whose fiduciary duties and responsibilities are determined by the College’s bylaws and other governing documents. The Board’s responsibilities include advocating for the College locally, nationally, and internationally; exercising appropriate oversight of the academic quality and fiscal health of the College; approving the annual budget; evaluating and advising the president of the College; and providing financial support, as well as leadership in fundraising, to sustain the College’s mission and progress.