The Board meeting itself begins on Thursday evening and ends at lunchtime on Saturday. A day and half is a pretty long meeting, you might think: and of course, preparations start weeks before. And each meeting generates important additional work for the weeks after.
Yes, Board meetings are work, but they’re the best kind of work. Reviewing the information and reports prepared for the Board reminds us all of the vital and exciting things that happen on campus every day. For example, this time we shared a new Faculty Achievements publication — it will be on line shortly, in case you’d like to see it — summarizing all the publications, lectures, exhibits, performances, reviews, grants and honors Sweet Briar faculty have accomplished recently. Other materials reported increasingly strong numbers of applications, increasing numbers of donors, and continued success with finding way to reduce operating costs without affecting student experience.
Showing Directors the construction work underway on the library project and the new classrooms installed last summer renewed our pride in the very successful “learning spaces” initiative. And celebrating the completed funding of eight more new classrooms to be installed in the coming year gave us even more to look forward to.
Board meetings create an opportunity for dialogue between faculty and Board leadership groups; this time, for example, conversation focused on the arts at Sweet Briar and the importance of our partnership with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Keeping with the arts theme, students performers did numbers from our recent production of The King and I over lunch on Friday; many Directors also attended the fall dance concert that evening.
And then, after each Board meeting there are the community updates. (You can find the written update report here.) My office buys lunch for anybody who wants to come and hear a summary of the topics on the Board’s agenda and any decisions they made. This is an opportunity for me to hear comments and questions from faculty members, students, librarians, office managers, athletic trainers, housekeepers, physical plant staff, admissions recruiters — in short, from anybody on campus who would like to talk with the President about the College’s plans and priorities.
Perhaps the best thing about those updates, though, is that I get to reflect back to the campus community the appreciation and respect with which their work is regarded by the members of the Board. Finally, that’s probably the best thing about Board meetings and community updates — how much we enjoy sharing our love for Sweet Briar!