The Board of Trustees is a group of about 40 men and women who advise the university on matters of policy, finance, governance and real estate. The board met for three days in succession, Feb. 7, 8 and 9, making decisions about issues that will affect Eastern students in the near future.
The board members meet three times a year at one of Eastern campuses. Typically they meet at the St. Davids campus, but occasionally they congregate at Esperanza College, Palmer Theological Seminary or the Eastern in the City campus, according to Senior Vice President Tom Ridington.
The board consists of various committees, each member usually serving on two, to handle business of particular areas. These include the executive, finance, administration, faith and practice, development, academic affairs, student development, governance and marketing and enrollment committees. Each committee meets for a minimum of two hours on Thursday and Friday evening the week of the board meeting.
Each member is individually selected to serve on the board. They each offer to be on particular committees within the board based on his or her skills and gifts that would be helpful in that area, Ridington said.
The governance committee has the role of assessing how the board is doing. The committee has the authority to ask board members to step down and to ask others to join.
The board has recently brought in new members based on areas where certain expertise was lacking, Ridington said. An entrepreneur and a tax lawyer, both Eastern alumni, were invited to become members.
“What we’re trying to do more and more is invite alumni to serve on our board,” Ridington said.
Donald Gough, chairman of the board, and President Black are considered “ex-oficio” on the board, meaning that they observe every committee meeting without participating in voting.
The full board meeting takes place on Saturday. Each chairperson of each committee is given a time slot of approximately 12 minutes to report the outcome of the committee meeting to the board. Also, any votes that have to be taken by the board occur at this meeting. The board members vote on issues of fees, new faculty members, faculty members requesting tenure, and fundraisers.
The final decisions and accomplishments of the Board of Trustees meeting are not considered public information until the minutes are officially approved.
Generally speaking, Ridington said students can expect to see more campus resources in the future, including fundraising projects, better technology and more classrooms. One project in particular that the board approved is fundraising for the performing arts facility.
“That is something that the board has affirmed, and the president will work on raising those funds,” Ridington said. The performing arts has outgrown its current facility, and there is a need for additional practice and performance space, Ridington said.
According to Ridington, students will likely see an increase in cost next year. “We’re careful with costs,” Ridington said. “We always want to stay slightly below average on costs.” It is typical for tuition and other expenses to rise each year, “but that’s inevitable,” Ridington said.
During the Saturday board meeting, Eastern’s Strategic Plan was approved by the board after being worked on for about two years. The details of the Strategic Plan have not been released yet, but it involves plans that will be put into effect over the course of the next few years. Goals include improvement in the areas of finances, technology, facilities and academics.
According to Ridington, the Board of Trustees works like “a check and balance, to see that we are staying true to our mission.”