You are here: American University Board of Trustees May 23, 2018 Memo

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Memorandum May 23, 2018

AU Community
Jack C. Cassell, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees Spring 2018 Meeting Summary

The American University Board of Trustees met on May 17–18 on the AU campus for its spring meeting. A number of significant actions occurred that I'd like to report.

Following a full day of committee meetings on May 17, the board held an evening reception at the Burwell home. The occasion enabled the board to pay tribute to Provost Scott Bass for his significant achievements, as he steps down on June 29 after 10 outstanding years in service to American University. In his honor, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the board has named the Undergraduate Research Award in the provost's name, to symbolize Scott's inspiration and encouragement for high AU academic achievement.

The full board meeting took place on May 18 on the East Campus. The day began with a breakfast for AU staff, to enable staff to meet with trustees, share experiences, and make suggestions about how to make AU even better. The full meeting followed, and a number of actions were taken.

The board presented two resolutions—one, naming trustee Jeff Sine as chairman emeritus, in recognition of his four years (2011–2015) of service as board chairman and leading AU through a period of outstanding achievement and board stewardship; a resolution also was presented to name Scott Bass as provost emeritus, to honor his tireless efforts to strengthen AU's academic excellence. The board also thanked outgoing faculty trustee Todd Eisenstadt for his two years of dedicated service, and outgoing student trustee Valentina Fernandez for her exemplary service; she will now transition into her new role as president of the AU Student Government.

A key board action was the approval of six current trustees for new three-year terms as members of the Class of 2021; this included trustees Jack Cassell; Stephanie Bennett-Smith; Margery Kraus; Betsy Mangone; Arthur Rothkopf; and Jeff Sine.

The board also elected three new trustees, whose terms now begin. The new voting trustees are Maril MacDonald and Mehdi Heravi. Maril MacDonald, CEO and founder of Gagen MacDonald, a leading strategy execution and business transformation firm, is a widely recognized industry pioneer in helping large, complex organizations confront the human struggle of change, and is considered one of the most powerful women in her field; she is also the parent of a 2017 AU alumna. Mehdi Heravi is an AU/SIS alumnus, retired political science professor and author of more than five books on political science and international relations. The new student trustee (non-voting) is Saira Grewal, who has served capably as the student-trustee-elect for the past year. Saira is a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying musical theatre and computer science.

The board approved two new academic programs. The first is a Master of Legal Studies, a 30-credit online degree offered by the Washington College of Law and the Kogod School of Business, to respond to the growing interest and need for non-lawyers with legal knowledge. The second is a Master of Science in Data Science, a collaborative program between the School of Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, to prepare students for positions in academia, government, and industry that require extensive knowledge of statistical and computational tools.

Acting upon the recommendation from the College of Arts and Sciences and following approval from the Academic Affairs Committee, the board also terminated two programs—the Bachelor of Fine Arts and the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

The board reviewed and approved recommendations for faculty tenure and promotion; those individual approvals will be communicated separately.

President Burwell led an open discussion on the status of the new strategic plan. Following her update, the president asked the board for their thoughts on cross-cutting themes and big ideas that should be considered as part of the strategic plan.

Among the committee reports, the Alumni and Development Committee continues to work with the board on a range of capital campaign planning issues.

There being no further business, the board adjourned. The next meeting will be September 13–14, when the board holds its annual retreat at Airlie.