Emory Report
December 10, 2007
Volume 60, Number 14

“I serve on Emory’s Board out of a sense of giving back, and being able to make sure that the quality of education and caliber of experience I’ve had at Emory is something that we keep improving and share for the next generation of students.” -Trustee Teresa Rivero ‘85Ox-‘87B-‘93MPH, on why she serves on the Board of Trustees.

“Trustees have the benefit of the big picture that comes along with oversight responsibilities, but at the same time, we also have the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and work on specific projects with faculty, staff and students.” -Trustee Wendell Reilly ‘80C, on why he finds serving as trustee “gratifying.”

“Emory must have a Board that is committed, knowledgeable and enthusiastically engaged as it provides guidance for sustainability and excellence based on sound values and thoughtful vision.” - Trustee Laura Jones Hardman ‘67C, on her vision for the future of the Board of Trustees.


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December 10, 2007
Board of Trustees wraps up year with eye to the future

By kim urquhart

The November meeting of Emory’s Board of Trustees capped a productive year of engagement and planning.

“We have great leadership from the administration and a terrific spirit among trustees; consequently, we’re enjoying a lot of institutional momentum,” said Trustee Wendell Reilly ’80C.

Trustees reviewed the progress of key initiatives, evaluated current issues and planned for the future.
As the implementation of the strategic plan continues to move forward, the Board reviewed progress of strategic initiatives and assessed key indicators of the University’s performance.

As Emory continues to enhance its physical environment through the campus master plan, the Board approved several important construction projects this year, including new buildings for psychology, Candler School of Theology and the Rollins School of Public Health.

The public phase of the University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign is also coming into focus, and is an issue that will engage the trustees on several levels. “It’s not all about raising money,” Reilly noted, but about supporting the University’s vision and strategic plan. “The comprehensive campaign is really about finding people to invest in that vision.”

The Board also discussed at length current issues such as the future of financially troubled Grady Memorial Hospital.

New voices
The Board was further strengthened this year with new appointments. Emory welcomed two new alumni trustees: Teresa Rivero ’85Ox–’87B–’93MPH, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and C. Robert Henrikson ’72L, chair, president and CEO of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

To lend another voice to decisions affecting the University, five new faculty counselors joined existing counselors from across the campus. Faculty counselors serve three-year terms as non-voting faculty representatives on the Board’s major committees. “We add a faculty perspective on matters and issues being discussed so the Board gets a sense of what’s happening on the ground,” said professor Nadine Kaslow, who as president of the University Senate and chair of the Faculty Council serves as an ex officio member of the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee.

To further strengthen the connection between trustees and faculty, Kaslow has invited Board of Trustees Chair Ben Johnson III ’65C and Trustee Chilton Varner ’76L to upcoming meetings of the Faculty Council and University Senate. The Board hears regular reports from Emory’s governance groups, including the Student Government Association and the Emory Alumni Board. “The more you bring together different constituency groups who all care about Emory but through different lenses, and figure out how to work together, you’ll move further forward when there are areas of difference,” Kaslow said.

Preparing for the future
To preserve the traditional stability and deep commitment of the existing Board while preparing for major changes to its membership over the next decade, the Board’s Governance, Trusteeship and Nominations Committee established a Governance Task Force to help it plan for the future. The task force’s report, “Preparing for the Board of the Future: Succession and Strategic Planning,” details a number of governance-related initiatives to address the evolving needs of the University.

By 2015, more than two-thirds of the Board’s membership will turn over as terms expire and current trustees retire. “We’ve tried to come up with very strategic and focused ways to make sure our wonderful, young and dynamic senior administrative team is well supported after we are long gone,” said Johnson, who chairs the task force.

“These changes provide the opportunity for strong succession planning for our Board,” added Vice President and Secretary of the University Rosemary Magee, whose office is working closely with the Board to develop short- and long-term succession plans that ensure continuity and cohesion.

In a move that enables it to meet the heightened needs of the institution during transformational periods, the size of Board will change from a fixed number of 39 trustees to a designated range of 39 to 45 trustees. As a result, its membership may increase up to 15 percent over the next decade, building on the full range of intellectual and professional expertise of the Board with appointments that reflect the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds of the alumni body. Planning for succession involves identifying and cultivating a strong, diverse pool of candidates who will serve Emory with dedication and distinction. “Everyone in the community can contribute to that process,” Magee said.

The length of the terms will be recalibrated from the current eight-year renewable term. Term trustees will move to a six-year initial term, and a four-year renewable term may follow. Alumni trustees will continue to serve one six-year term.

“Flexibility in the number of trustees and regular assessment of strengths and needs of the Board will help assure an appropriate balance for the most effective governance as Emory continues to thrive and to excel,” said Trustee Laura Jones Hardman ’67C.

Another component of the strategic plan is to promote effective governance practices, enhance opportunities for informed advocacy and expand opportunities for meaningful engagement.

One such opportunity for engagement was a presentation at the recent Board meeting by professor Frans de Waal about his teaching and research on primate behavior at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and a discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning author professor Natasha Trethewey at the previous meeting. Reilly said the presentations “help ground trustees and remind them what the University is all about. What makes a University interesting is the research and the teaching that take place.” It’s one of the opportunities for engagement the Board plans to be more intentional about providing in the future.

Johnson believes it is important to begin building the Board of the future today to support the long horizon of Emory’s senior leadership team. “When we rotate off, it will be with our heads held high knowing that we left a better board behind,” he said.