What does it take to run a university?

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I am sitting in a meeting of the Board of Trustees of FPU as I write this brief blog.  I am here as a resource to the board, and they are not discussing anything that they would need my assistance on.  I listen so that I understand how the board understands and wants to pursue the future of the university, and take notes so that I can follow up on items that I will need to pursue later.  Some of it is complicated and detailed–technical legal requirements, etc.–and some of it is very high level goal- and direction-setting.

Its Saturday morning–another work day for me.  But for the board members this is a busy day, one during which they are donating their time, energy, creativity, and talents to help guide and direct the university.  It is a big commitment, and some have served for many years.  They just now approved the proposed budget for next year, totalling somewhere near $40 million, and embodying a host of priorities from faculty development and scholarship, to tuition and financial aid commitments, capital improvements, new marketing initiatives and goals and plans for athletics, student life and spiritual formation.  It gets to be complex.

Yesterday, Friday, the Board met for six hours, and we administrators played more active roles.  The academic and enrollment committees met together to review and discuss the results of the new marketing study prepared by for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (of which we are a member) that was released just last week in Atlanta.  About five of us who were in Atlanta were part of the meeting yesterday trying to sort out the implications of what students and parents want in a university today.  This will shape not only how we market the institution, but how we approach student and academic programs, faculty priorities, and building plans.  We will be presenting the findings to the faculty over the next months.

After the meetings yesterday about 200 supporters of the university met for one of our annual fund raising dinners to thank our President’s Circle donors (those who give $1000 per year or more). Most of the Board and administration were there. Some were honored for donating more than $100,000 to the university, others for being consistent supporters for more than 25 years.  We announced that we have raised $23 million so far in our current “Building on Excellence” capital campaign.  Goals for a school of education building and academic programs have been met, and we are still working on the final donations for a new performing arts center.  A performing arts center has been a dream and part of the plans for longer than I have been at the university (a very long time).  A new faculty and administration building, science and math center, residence hall, student center, and new athletic fields came first.  Now it is time for performing arts.

What does it take to run a university?  The commitment of many–their time, gifts, insight, patience, and persistence.  It gets to be very complex.  And it takes a wise Board to keep it all in balance.

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  • Susan Butler

    This sounds like a neat idea. I’m not sure if I could do this with my students. Many of them do not have access at home to technology. However, perhaps I could use our school learn pads and my teacher’s aide to split our class into two groups. One could listen to a lesson while the other did an activity with me. I’ll need to give this more thought.