October 31st, 2011

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Time: 4:15 pm
  • Present: Staff Members: Sarah Forster, Tami Little, Bev Nagel; Faculty Members: Stacy Beckwith, Arnab Chakladar, Michael Hemesath, Sam Patterson; Students: Lauren Chow, Jonathan Hillis, Isaac Hodes, Caley Shannon; Alumni Observer Lee Mauk; Trustee Observer Gary O’Brien.
  • Absent: Staff Members: Steve Poskanzer, Fred Rogers, Hudlin Wagner; Faculty Member Beth McKinsey; Student Rebecca Gourevitch.
  • Guests: Director of Private Markets Andy Christensen, Budget Director Patricia Langer, Associate Dean of Students Julie Thornton.
  • Secretary: Laura Michel '12

The minutes from the October 10, 2011 meeting stand as submitted.

Career Center Update

Associate Dean of Students Julie Thornton reported that Brent Nystrom has taken on the role of interim head of the Career Center since Richard Berman’s departure to Oberlin. Going forward, Carleton will be working with a firm to conduct a national search to permanently fill the position. Julie Thornton noted that because there is considerable satisfaction with the direction the Career Center is moving in, the search will focus on finding someone who will continue and build off of current initiatives, rather than introduce a complete overhaul.

Julie Thornton also pointed out that St. Olaf is in the process of beginning a similar search, but the hope is that the extended December break will provide an opportunity to get ahead of the process. Overall, Carleton will be ahead of the national search for college administrators, which typically begins mid-winter. Jonathan Hillis ’13 asked specifically about the pre-law advisory program, which only recently came under the purview of the Career Center. Julie Thornton responded that for pre-law seniors, there would be no change and the Career Center staff will continue working them as they had in the beginning of the year, though juniors and underclassmen may see changes going forward. Additionally, there have been several offers from knowledgeable faculty and staff to step in and help fill gaps when needed. Overall, Julie Thornton concluded her report, the priority of the Career Center is to support students, which it has done and will continue to do successfully.

Evans Renovations

Dean of the College Bev Nagel informed the College Council that the Board of Trustees had approved the plan for the renovation of Evans Hall. In anticipation of the closure of the residence hall for the fall, the Dean’s office has been working to approve and advertise additional off-campus studies programs for fall term 2012. Julie Thornton added that there is a lot of excitement surrounding the renovations, which will finally address safety and community issues that have long-plagued the building. These improvements include adding sprinklers, creating a residential life experience based upon floors rather than columns, the addition of 40 extra beds, and an elevator. Construction will begin the day after Reunion ends, but Evans will still be offline in the fall of 2012, which will slightly complicate housing in that first term of the year. Julie Thornton explained that, although ResLife likes to have some open rooms, so if, for medical or other reasons, students need to move in the middle of term, there are places available immediately. However, there are always more rooms vacant than needed in the fall because of the number of students who study off-campus in the beginning of the year. As such, about half of the needed space to make up for the loss of Evans will be accounted for by filling these yearly fall vacancies on campus. Additionally, ResLife also has to the option of re-tripling the Watson corner rooms and using several apartments that are usually left for use by visiting lecturers, etc. but can be used for students if needed. There are less desirable spaces, such as lounges in Goodhue as dorms, which can make up the final room gap as a last resort. The hope is that the additional OCS programs in fall 2012 will draw enough extra students that there will be minimal disruption to the current residential life operating process.

Isaac Hodes ’12 asked why ResLife seemed so hesitant to open more off-campus housing. Julie Thornton responded that while students could move from lounges and less desirable on-campus spaces in the winter once Evans reopens, the decision to allow more students to live off campus in the fall will impact residential life on campus for the entire year. Lauren Chow ’14 asked if the renovations would bring Evans’ up to LEED standards. Julie Thornton answered that Carleton had made a commitment to being LEED certified. Although the limitations of a renovation project, rather than completely new construction as was the case for Memorial and Cassat, may mean that the Evans will likely not achieve the same efficiencies as newer buildings, there is a strong commitment to ensuring that all major projects create buildings that are efficient as possible. 

Caley Shannon ’14 inquired about the status of The Cave during the renovations. Julie Thornton noted that The Cave will be part of the renovation process, with the addition of bigger bathrooms and a green room. Enhancements beyond that, such as any to the sound system, are the responsibility of the CSA. As such, The Cave will also be offline next fall, and discussions have begun as to where The Cave will move its programming for the one term.

Jonathan Hillis ’13 asked a further, general question as to when the framework for the decision about the reduction of the numbers of students allowed Northfield Option every year was made. Julie Thornton replied that in 2007, on the initiative of the College as a whole, a study on the residential hall program was done. From this study, a determination was made as to the optimal percentage of students living in campus housing. Prior to the opening of Cassat and Memorial, approximately 250 students lived off campus in a given year, which has since been reduced to 100. Julie Thornton also noted that in this plan for housing the optimal types of residence halls was also addressed. It is well understood that transitional housing – such as the townhouses and off-board living arrangements, are most desirable to older students. All of these factors are being discussed by strategic planning working groups, including the Size of the College, Facilities, and Community groups. Isaac Hodes ’12, returning again to the topic of Northfield Option, contended that additional off-campus residents may be best given the situation, as moving in and out of dorm rooms during the year would likely be extremely disruptive to residential communities and the overall experience of individual residents. Julie Thornton agreed, but emphasized that it was important to balance the morale and comfort issues with what, ultimately, would allow the college to make, through room and board fees, the money it needs to continue operating at the level desired by the campus community.

Endowment Spending Policy

Budget Director Patricia Langer informed the group that the Board of Trustees had also approved a new spending rule at their most recent meeting. The spending rule determines what part of the endowment will be spent yearly on the college’s operating budget. Within the framework of an ultimate goal of stability of Carleton’s endowment, for the benefit of both the current and future Carleton community, the Trustees chose to reduce the target return of investments from 9% to 7%. This means the formula for budgetary decisions will be weighed more heavily with, and thus be more receptive to, the market. This calculation is more conservative without being draconian, and will allow the endowment to be preserved in the long run.

The meeting concluded at 5 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Laura Michel ‘12

College Council Secretary