Welcome to the Spring Semester

Dear Saint Mary's Community,

Welcome to the Spring Semester.

As the spring undergraduate term begins, I wish all of the returning students, faculty and staff a most productive and active time of learning and growth. I also encourage you to welcome our new Provost, Beth Dobkin, and to read her message to the Saint Mary's Community in this week's campus bulletin. You will have the opportunity to meet her in person at a number of events during the upcoming months. I also invite you to visit our newest facility, Filippi Academic Hall, which houses the Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz School of Education, Academic Advising and Support Services, many faculty offices, and classroom and study spaces for all students. The beauty and design of this building are testaments to our commitment to a harmonic and esthetic setting for our educational mission, as well as to the generosity of our many benefactors.

The season of Lent has also arrived, a time to reflect and prepare for Easter. Many of you were able to attend the Ash Wednesday Liturgy last week. In his homily, Father Sal Ragusa reminded us that this is a time for fasting, prayer and good works. You are all invited to join the church community in these practices, or similar activities according to your faith tradition.

Trustee Action

The Board of Trustees held their January meeting to coincide with the dedication and opening of Filippi Academic Hall on January 24th. The Board approved a 2008-2009 budget that:

1) Increases undergraduate tuition and fees by 7 percent, the same rate of increase as last year.

2) Includes a 5.5 percent room and 5.0 percent board rate increase.

3) Increases institutional financial aid 15 percent (an additional $3.4 million annually) to support the College's efforts to remain affordable for students from all income levels.

4) Allocates a five percent increase for aggregate faculty and staff salaries. This compares with four percent last year.

5) Adjusts our endowment spending rate from 4.6 percent to 5.0 percent increasing endowment income by $909, 000 or 15 percent. $500,000 of these funds is earmarked for enhancements to our fund raising efforts.

The College's Budget Committee, ably led by Vice President for Finance Pete Michell, carefully considered our mission, strategic objectives, and the current turbulent economic environment before recommending the 2008-2009 budget parameters. Student fee increases are driven by our desire to attract and retain talented faculty and staff members via competitive salaries. Recognizing the sacrifices students and their families make to attend Saint Mary's, we raise fees with reluctance; nevertheless we do so convinced it is necessary to maintain our tradition of educational excellence.

Pete will provide a more detailed summary of the 2008-09 budget later this spring.

Vice President for Development Search Committee

A national search is underway to replace Brother Stan Sobczyk as vice president. Trustee Richard DeLuna and Vice President/Provost Michael Beseda are co-chairing the search committee which includes the following members:

Brother Dominic Berardelli, Special Assistant to the President
Jeanne DeMatteo, Director of Finance and Controller
David Holquin, SMC Alumni Association
Brian Jersky, Dean, School of Science
Shyam Kamath, Professor and Executive Director Global Programs, Graduate Business
Mark Orr, Director of Athletics and Recreational Sports
Ellen Rigsby, Associate Professor of Communication
Richard Spencer, Regent
Greg Teshara, President SMC Alumni Association

The Committee expects to have candidates on campus for interviews with a broad array of faculty, staff and students in the later part of this term.

Commencement Speaker

I am pleased to report that Emmy-winning journalist, Regent and alum Laura Garcia Cannon '91 has accepted my invitation to serve as speaker at the May 24th undergraduate Commencement

Annual State of the College Address

Please plan on joining me on March 5th at 12:40 p.m. in LeFevre Theatre for the annual State of the College address. I look forward to sharing with you in greater detail the many accomplishments, challenges and opportunities the College faces as we strive to live fully our Catholic Lasallian and Liberal Arts mission.

In St. La Salle,

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC