I write with a brief summary of our recent Board of Trustees meeting, which took place on campus from Thursday, April 23, through Saturday, April 25. My thanks to Prof. Kim Daubman, chair of the faculty; Prof. Gary Steiner, secretary of the faculty; and Profs. Karen Castle, Jim Baish, Stephen Buonopane, Bastian Heinsohn and Matthew Slater for participating in the various Board committee meetings that took place throughout the three days, the summaries of which you can read online. I am also grateful that so many of you could join us for the Faculty Recognition Dinner held on Friday, April 24, during which we celebrated the promotions of 21 faculty.
Motivated by the events of the past several weeks, and recognizing that confronting discrimination on campus must be a priority for our entire community, the Board devoted considerable time in executive session to discussing climate-related issues. That included a candid conversation with a faculty panel comprising Profs. Kim Daubman, Carmen Gillespie and Michael James, all of whom are members of the President's Diversity Council. The discussion focused primarily on racism at Bucknell, but also addressed intolerance in other forms. Importantly, the Board — alone and with the panel — also engaged in conversations regarding steps Bucknell can take (and other entities have taken) to address racism and discrimination more broadly, supporting Bucknell's goal of becoming a more inclusive environment for all.
The Board also reviewed and strongly affirmed the University's Diversity Plan, which was promulgated in April 2014, noting that it's a living document that must be revisited and updated on a regular basis. I shared with the trustees some early indicators of progress in specific areas identified within the plan, including diversifying both our faculty and our student body.
With our faculty hiring cycle for the upcoming academic year now complete, I am encouraged by the fact that more than half of our new tenure-track faculty come from groups that are underrepresented at Bucknell (nine of 18 in the College of Arts & Sciences, and four of six in the College of Engineering). I was also able to share with the trustees similar signs of progress within the makeup of our student body. Since the conclusion of the Board meeting, we've nearly completed the enrollment cycle, allowing us to gain a more comprehensive view of the Class of 2019. I am pleased to share with you that, as of Tuesday, students of color (exclusive of international students) account for nearly 23 percent of the incoming class, a 55-percent increase from last year, making our new class the most diverse in Bucknell's 169-year history. As I've stated in the past, our efforts and successes in these areas are just exemplars of the true progress we can make through highly intentional, dedicated work. At the Board's direction, the University will continue to identify and dedicate additional resources toward our aspirations of fulfilling the objectives identified in the Diversity Plan.
As you may recall, the Board in 2014 authorized the University to incur up to $50 million in new indebtedness. Given the current environment of historically low interest rates, the Board approved the incurrence of an additional $50 million in debt, for a total of $100 million, all of which will be reserved for capital projects. In January, $25 million of this amount was drawn down to help with the construction costs of the south residence complex (which will open this summer, in time for the start of the 2015-16 academic year). The Board has not approved the specific purposes for which the remaining funds are to be used. It has, however, discussed possible allocations of these resources. One likely use is to provide matching funds to help spur development gifts for new construction. That includes Academic East, a facility that will house new classrooms, faculty offices, labs and hearth space, primarily for Engineering and other departments that intersect with areas of human health and well-being. The Board also discussed a new facility for Management, much-needed renovations and/or additions to the Art Barn and Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, and the construction of additional student housing. As I've discussed with the newly formed Humanities Council, I also presented to the Board the concept of converting an existing facility into an interdisciplinary Humanities Center. Many of these projects will depend on a combination of University resources (e.g., debt) and significant donor support. Final approval on any of these specific projects will be subject to the normal case-by-case review by the Board.
One of the considerations that will help inform the need for additional residential space is the Board's exploration of a measured increase of the student body. Nearly 10 years ago, consistent with the first pillar of the Plan for Bucknell — Strengthen the Academic Core — the Board committed to lowering the faculty course load from six to five. That was expected to result in a student-to-faculty ratio of about 10:1. Today, as that ratio stands much closer to 9:1, the Board continues to discuss growing the student body by 200 over a four-year period. While debt and donations will support the construction of future capital projects, we expect new tuition revenue from modest student growth will be needed to operate and maintain those campus improvements.
Trustee Steven Holmes provided the Board with an update on the WE DO Campaign, which has now raised more than $345 million toward its half-billion dollar goal. That includes more than $111 million for scholarships and financial aid, and more than $42 million for newly endowed professorships and chairs. The WE DO Tour events continued to be well received by our alumni, volunteers, and family and friends, including our most recent event in Philadelphia, which showcased our College of Engineering. Upcoming tour destinations planned for next semester include Baltimore and northern New Jersey.
The $300K in a Day Trustee Challenge was also extremely successful, both in terms of participation and dollars raised. More than 4,200 donors participated in the one-day giving challenge, an increase from last year of nearly 45 percent. Including the matching funds from the trustees, the event raised more than $1.7 million. Thank you to the trustees for their generosity and their continued support of this event. You can read more about the results of the challenge.
During its Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, four trustees were considered for positions as officers of the Board. Ken Freeman '72 was re-elected as Board chair, Marlene Hurd '79, P'10 was elected as secretary, and Steve Holmes '79 and Bill Morrow '70 were elected as vice chairs. All four votes were unanimous.
The Board also unanimously elected three new trustees. Steve Kohn '81, Kathy LaPoint P'14, '17 and renowned artist Mako Fujimura '83 P'13 will begin their terms on July 1. Each of these individuals have in various ways contributed greatly to this institution, and we look forward to their good stewardship of the University as trustees.
This meeting marked the retirement of two valued Board members: Sue Baird '72, P'11 and Ellen Bush '79, both of whom were unanimously elected trustee emeritae. Both Sue and Ellen have made immeasurable contributions to this University, and we greatly appreciate their long-standing dedication to Bucknell.
The spring beauty on campus serves as a reminder that Commencement is once again upon us. As we draw closer to the conclusion of another academic year together, please accept my deepest gratitude for your commitment to our students, to each other, and to Bucknell.
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