September 25th, 2002

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Present: President Robert A. Oden, Jr; Deans Mark Govoni, Stephen Kelly and Shelby Boardman; Professors Jack Goldfeather, Martha Paas, John Ramsay, Kim Smith and Dana Strand; Students Luke Hasskamp, David Gold, Dan Farmer, Alex Cook and Hubert Cook; Staff Persons Lois Perkins and Andrea Nixon; Alumni Observer Neil ChaffeeOde
  • Absent: Trustee Observer Louise Heffelfinger
  • Secretary: Christine Lee
  • Keywords: Oden, Passenger Vans, Master Building Plan, Art Museum, College Council

Approval of Minutes

The College Council minutes for the meeting of May 14, 2002, were approved unanimously in a voice vote.

President's Report

President Oden began his report by highlighting the effects of the lowered endowment on the College's Budget for the upcoming year. He explained that several years ago, Carleton had an endowment that was valued approximately at $700 million; however, due to the current stock market situation and the events of the past year, Carleton, like other institutions of higher education, is faced with a significantly reduced amount of income from our endowment. President Oden reassured the Council that Carleton is currently not facing a financial crisis, but it is still necessary to plan prudently. President Oden reiterated that as the College faces these financial challenges, the overriding aim is threefold: "to keep Carleton Carleton," to avoid cuts in personnel to the extent possible, and to consistently maintain Carleton's educational quality and environment.

Next, President Oden announced the College's new Van Policy that replaced traditional 15-passenger vans with smaller, safer 7-passenger models. An examination of these vans began last year when Vice President and Treasurer Barbara Johnson convened several committees to study whether 15-passenger vans posed a greater threat to safety. By the end of the 2001-2002 school year, it was decided that the College would phase out all 15-passenger vans by January 1, 2003. Two events accelerated the January deadline: a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation confirming the greater danger of 15-passenger vehicles and President Oden's arrival. At President Oden's urging, the Administrative Council decided to expedite the process and completely eliminate 15-passengers vans by the start of the school year. Although the use of smaller vans would double the number of vehicles on the road, President Oden believes that it is the safest solution given the current information. This shift in policy will affect many people, particularly the Athletic Department and academic departments that routinely take field trips for laboratory assignments.

Additionally, President Oden reported that the College is creating a master building plan for the campus. Planning for the construction of a new art museum will be coordinated with this long-term, comprehensive master plan.

On the topic of enrollment, President Oden acknowledged that Carleton is approximately 50 students over our enrollment goal this fall. He attributed this over-enrollment to three reasons: retention is better than anticipated; a high freshman yield of 35%; and a decreased number of students on Off Campus Studies programs. Despite the increased revenue of additional students, President Oden stressed that over-enrollment is not a positive change since it could easily diminish the quality and experience that each student receives. Due to the concerted efforts and planning of the Admissions Office, the number of incoming freshman has been shrinking from 530 freshman two years ago to 520 last year and finally to a class of 502 this year. President Oden stressed the difficult task of the Admissions Office in trying to pinpoint the exact number of people in each class since underestimating can be financially dangerous and overestimating can lead to overcrowding.

Mission, Goals and Expectations

Each member had an opportunity to speak about their interpretation of the College Council's mission and their own personal goals for the year. There was a general sense of excitement although there was some confusion over the purpose of the Council. Professor Jack Goldfeather raised the question that the College Council is considered to be a major committee, but at times he feels as though the decision-making is just a formality or a "rubber stamp." Professor Martha Paas elaborated that during her many years with the Council, it has changed from a dramatic governing body that voted on numerous contentious issues without a lot of conversation to a discussion oriented model that embodied the true sense of a council and then to an informational model where reports were given and decisions explained. Paas added that she preferred the period when the Council was a place where representatives met and actively discussed issues of mutual interest.

Overall, many members praised the diverse composition of the Council with representatives from students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees and hoped that it would allow for interesting and meaningful conversations. Professor John Ramsay articulated that the Council would be doing its job as long as it deliberated very thoughtfully and respectfully and utilized its position as one of the last checks on policy. Dean Shelby Boardman also hoped that the Council would be able to frame and initiate dialogue and "influence the tenor of conversation on campus." Topical suggestions for the year's agenda included a review of the student disciplinary retention policy and the college house configurations (Dean Mark Govoni), closer communication with the Board of Trustees (Ramsay), and a discussion of the use of long-term planning documents (Dean Steve Kelly).

The meeting ended with a brief discussion on how to shape the Council's agenda. President Oden explained that the Council only has one statutory requirement of approving the Budget; beyond that, the Council is free to choose its own agenda excluding the curriculum. Professor Kim Smith suggested that the Council leave the prioritizing of agenda items to the President as long as there are times throughout the year when Council members can discuss potential agenda items that they deem to be important. President Oden recommended that the members e-mail him with any suggestions of agenda items for the next meeting.

The meeting ended at 5:45 p.m.