May 2018 Board of Trustees Update

The Saint Mary’s College of California Board of Trustees and the President’s Cabinet met on Friday, May 25, 2018, for its last gathering of the 2017-18 academic year.

Meeting Highlights:

  • President James Donahue reflected on the College’s progress over the past academic year and noted that SMC was on track to achieve this year’s budget as well as its enrollment targets for next year, and next year’s proposed budget included salary increases for faculty and staff. He reported that the public phase of the College’s $125 million Comprehensive Campaign was successfully launched; strategic plan initiatives continued to be implemented,  including renovations to key campus facilities; the Business and Academic Resource (BAR) Task Force, whose primary focus is the long-term financial sustainability of SMC, has had three meetings; shared governance efforts are ongoing; and advocacy of SMC’s Lasallian Catholic tradition continues with regular mission-related programming, including Los Angeles Bishop Robert Barron’s presentation on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to a standing room only audience in the Chapel.
  • Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Kasimatis provided additional insight on the College’s progress toward meeting fall 2018 enrollment targets. As a result of more targeted outreach for potential students and strategic financial aid leveraging, the College has seen upward trends in applications and admits for traditional first-time first-year students, and in applications, admits, and deposits for transfer students. She also updated the Board on progress toward the College becoming more of a student-connected, engaged, and socially vibrant 24/7 campus, noting finalization of plans for renovating Café Louis, Dryden Hall, and Cassin Hall, and in partnership with Sodexo, establishing a campus pub. The Board passed a unanimous motion endorsing the pub project.
  • Vice President for Finance and Administration Susan Collins provided a presentation that covered the state of SMC’s fiscal health, including the College’s proposed $130 million operating and capital budget for FY 2018-19 — which included salary increases for faculty and staff, and addressed the importance of growing additional revenue streams for the institution.   
  • Vice President for Advancement Lisa Moore and Assistant Vice President for Development and Campaign Director Daniel Lewis gave a presentation about the progress of the Comprehensive Campaign Defining the Future: The Campaign for Saint Mary's. At the time of the launch on April 21, $103 million had been raised toward the Campaign goal of $125 million. At the end of April, the total raised had exceeded $104 million. Moore screened the Campaign video “Finding Your Voice” and shared the Campaign’s four priorities: supporting student scholarships, investing in academic excellence, strengthening the Lasallian Catholic mission, and funding College operations.   
  • Faculty and Student Sessions:  As part of the Board’s ongoing efforts to foster greater collaboration with faculty, three professors, who were nominated by their academic deans, spoke with the Board about teaching, scholarship, and community engagement. They included Chair of the Anthropology Department, Associate Professor Dana Herrera of SOLA; Associate Professor of Biology Vidya Chandrasekaran of SOS; and Director of the Global MBA Program, Professor Linda Herkenhoff of SEBA. Additionally, the Board engaged in dialogue with a panel of students that included Megan Crain, Politics/Spanish (SOLA); Yolanda Franco, Leadership Program (KSOE); Kevin Lillis, MBA (SEBA); Savannah Mattox, Communications (SOLA); Kimberly Paschal, Business (SEBA); and Nicholas Sanchez, Biochemistry (SOS). The panel discussion, moderated by Vice Provost for Student Life Jane Camarillo, addressed topics such as student recollections about how they learned about Saint Mary’s, highlights from their years at SMC, and their plans after graduation.

Board Resolutions:

  • Budget: The Board of Trustees approved the College’s $130 million operating and capital budgets for 2018-19. The budgets were developed with input from the College’s Budget Committee, which is comprised of 13 members representing staff, faculty, and academic deans, as well as the President’s Cabinet.
  • Faculty Serving on Board of Trustees Committees:  As part of the College’s commitment to shared governance, the Board approved active participation of faculty on the following key committees: Academic Affairs and Enrollment (Justice Community and Leadership Professor Monica Fitzgerald), Advancement (Psychology Professor Hoang Vu), Mission and Identity (Theology and Religious Studies Professor David “Zach” Flanagin), and Student Life (History Professor Myrna Santiago).
  • Board of Trustee Membership: The Board approved the election for a second three-year term for current members Kevin “Casey” Eichler and Ellen Kruger ’84. It also welcomed three new members, whose bios appear below, to serve an initial three-year term. The terms for re-elected and new members begin on July 1, 2018.
    • Brother Bernard LoCoco, FSC is an accomplished Lasallian educator. He has served on numerous boards over the years, including the boards of trustees at Christian Brothers University and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and for Christian Brothers Investment Services. He has had a distinguished career as an academic leader, having served as the President of the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, CA, Director of Sangre de Cristo Sabbatical Program in Santa Fe, NM, Provincial of the St. Louis District, and President of Christian Brothers College in Memphis, TN. While semi-retired, Brother Bernard continues to offer retreats, workshops and spiritual direction.
    • Dennis Meiss, PhD ’69 is a successful former healthcare industry executive, biotech researcher and business owner. Meiss’ scientific research included developing tests for clinical applications of amino acids in blood and urine. He served as Vice President of Technical Services for Advanced Medical Research, Inc., prior to starting the family owned firm, ProThera, Inc, which formulated and manufactured dietary supplements for exclusive sale to physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals. Meiss sold ProThera to an Australian firm in 2013 and now serves as a managing partner in DRC Investors, LLC and DRC Two Investors, LLC, which are located in Reno, Nevada.
    • Brother Michael O’Hern, FSC is an astute financial administrator, who served for 28 years as President and Chief Executive Officer at Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. Brother Michael's leadership skills, strategic insights and vision have been lauded for contributing to the success of CBIS as a unique provider of superior, socially responsible investment programs to the Catholic institutional market. Previously, Brother Michael served in the Archdiocese of Chicago as Principal of Saint Paul High School and Director of Catholic Secondary Schools. He also currently serves as a council member of the Midwest District Council and as a member of the Midwest District Finance Committee.

Board Charge:

  • 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.