A couple of years ago I wrote in this blog from a meeting of the FPU Board of Trustees. They are at it again, here at our fall Board meeting. The administration is here as a resource for the board which is charged with guiding the university and has the responsibility to be the steward of university resources, mission and its future.
So what is it doing on this Saturday morning? Some significant things.
First, as always, finances and budget are a concern. Our budget now nears $50,000,000, and is in very good shape. The board received the independent auditor’s report which was very, very positive. Then they asked where strategic investments will be needed. FPU is a non-profit institution any surplus we generate in a particular year goes back into the mission of providing education. Where should it go? What are the educational needs of the valley and its churches? They also approved tuition and fee rates for next year, both of which will be publically announced in the coming weeks.
With budgets comes fundraising. Tuition doesn’t pay for the total cost of the university. How will we raise enough funds to continue to develop the university? Most of our facilities are paid for by donated funds. Our capital campaign has raised almost $23,000,000 in a down economy toward a goal of $34,000,000. We are just waiting for the last $10,000,000, gift, or two $5,000,000 gifts. All board members are donors to the university, including their time, the giftedness or expertise, and their financial resources.
The Board also oversees policies for faculty, academic programs, and student life. This weekend they reviewed and approved faculty and administrative recommendations for a new academic program and on faculty governance—how the Faculty Senate should work with the administration and in particular with the Provost (my current role). The proposal was worked out consensually between the faculty leadership and the administration, and the board commended us for the work. Ideally this is how it should happen. We got it right this time.
There was some discussion of the move of our athletic association from the NAIA to the NCAA, which is going well, but has taken a lot of effort. And the Academic Committee noted the planning for our current accreditation work.
Probably the biggest item was a very long and intense discussion about our mission, strategic plan, and growth, etc. We have reached our five year enrollment goals within three years. But numbers and growth alone should not direct the university. Mission and purpose should lead us. Right now, as I write, they are discussing the mission and direction of the Seminary, which joined us fifteen months ago. Earlier they discussed the future direction of the character of the university. How large might we become? What kinds of programs are needed by students and communities? How do we work toward the spiritual development of students along with education and training in the arts and professions? All of these go together, and we have to add to them what resources will be needed—financial, personnel, facilities, infrastructure, etc.
I love the complexity of it, how it all goes together, and the unique perspectives that our board members bring to the discussion. We have board members who come from business and education, some who represent the church, representatives of our alumni, and those who have particular expertise (financial, legal, real estate, etc.). I also love the mission and purpose of FPU as a Christian university. Most of us are here because we feel called to this work, this purpose, and to the students, communities and churches we serve. We administrators sit at end of the table at the back of the room, and wait until we are needed. When not needed we work on what the board has assigned us, or write blog posts.