Board of Trustees Update Feb. 2024February 6, 2024
The Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees held its January meeting via Zoom on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26 and 27. During our board meetings, we discussed several topics and made important decisions that we’d like to share with the campus community.
On Friday morning during the plenary session, President Harriet Nembhard led a discussion about the liberal arts STEM education at Harvey Mudd College and beyond and what the next 10 years might bring. Trustees, including Harvey Mudd alums, shared their undergraduate experiences and discussed how the humanities, social sciences and the arts have impacted their lives. Their thoughtful comments provided insight about what should be on our radar as we work to make Harvey Mudd a better, stronger liberal arts college.
The Board enjoyed a special plenary session on Saturday focused on gearing up for a campaign. We were pleased to hear from Claremont McKenna College (CMC) President Hiram Chodosh, CMC Board Chair David Mgrublian CMC ’82, and VP for Advancement and Student Opportunities Michelle Chamberlain. As you may know, CMC just completed its “Campaign for CMC: Responsible Leadership” and secured nearly $1.1 billion, a record for liberal arts colleges in a single comprehensive campaign. Their insights about campaign vision, board roles, securing appropriate resources and team dynamics were invaluable. We enjoyed a rich and productive conversation that will continue as Harvey Mudd moves toward its next major campaign.
Upon discussion and the recommendation of the Academic Affairs Committee, the board unanimously approved these seven faculty members for tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor: Lucas Bang (CS), Katherine Breeden (CS), Nicholas Breznay ’02 (physics), Alfred Flores (HSA), Mark Ilton (physics), Haydee Lindo (math) and George Montañez (CS). We congratulate these faculty members and thank them for their service and dedication to our students.
The joint Committee of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs discussed improving resources for students needing more academic assistance. Faculty and staff are working hard to create and provide resources to bolster student success. The Student Affairs Committee was pleased to hear from student entrepreneurs Aymen Abdellatif ’24 (Athena), Ryan O’Hara ’24 (undersea robot) and Alspencer Omondi ’26 (NileLink) as they described their projects, shared their challenges and successes, and suggested ways the College could improve the entrepreneurship program.
Reports from the Advancement Committee included news of Harvey Mudd’s fundraising progress. As of Dec. 31 there have been $16.1 million in new pledges and outright gifts of which $8.2 million is year-to-date cash flow. The annual fund is at $1.9 million toward a $4.6 million goal. The board learned about efforts to fundraise for and promote the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment, and the Entrepreneurship program, which includes the student-driven Entrepreneurship Studio pilot program beginning this summer. In an effort to encourage more participation, the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations is working with CMC and Scripps as all three colleges consider moving their Alumni Weekends to June. The Alumni Board of Governors is looking forward to encouraging participation and partnering with advancement staff as they ramp up for the Pi Day Campaign, spanning March 1–14.
The board learned more about the Task Force on College Affordability, appointed by President Nembhard, which stems from the September board meeting and discussions about the expense of delivering a top-notch STEM education. This task force will be led by Thyra Briggs, VP for admission and financial aid. Its members will include Bruce DePriester ’74, trustee; Andrew Dorantes, VP/CFO/COO; Albert Lee, trustee; Mar Hershenson P24, trustee; Kim Stafford, AVP for development; and Darryl Yong ’96, professor of mathematics. It will present its progress at the May 2024 and September 2024 board meetings, with a final report anticipated in November 2024.
The College obtained an excellent report from auditors on all audited financial statements and received a 3.0 financial responsibility ratio, the highest an institution can receive. Kudos to Office of Business Affairs Vice President Andrew Dorantes and his team.
In addition to these important discussions, the Board also made some key decisions during our meetings, including:
- The Physical Plant and Campus Planning Committee (PPCPC) received an update on the status of the project to install a 500-kilowatt backup power generator to support the ventilation and exhaust systems and critical equipment of all academic spaces in the Libra Complex. Our new generator was installed in late December 2023, and we were able to use it in January 2024 during a scheduled power outage at the TCCS substation.
- The PPCPC received an update on the duct cleaning project for the Jacobs and Keck sub-basement. Additionally, F&M is exploring the possibility of performing a cleaning and replacement of the duct liner at the rooftop air handlers and all rooftop main ducting.
- The PPCPC approved spending Renewal and Replacement Reserve funds to install new card readers that will work with updated, standardized cards issued by TCCS. The new card readers are compatible with mobile credentials, which the College intends to eventually adopt.
- Both the PPCPC and the Board approved spending from the Audio-Visual Fund for the replacement of the Shanahan Center Audio-Visual control system, which manages the AV setup in the classrooms and lecture halls.
- The PPCPC and the Board approved spending from RRR funds for the replacement of the Linde Activities Center air conditioning units. The current units are past their life span and run on a refrigerant that is no longer produced in the U.S.
Other Trustee Actions
- The Board Affairs Committee recommended, and the board approved, Michael Schubmehl ’02 as vice chair of the board. A board member since 2014, Michael is an enthusiastic contributor and leader, and we appreciate his ongoing service.
- Trustees unanimously approved six candidates for graduation from the College. We welcome them to the HMC alumni family and wish them much success as they progress in their careers.
In closing, I encourage you to join members of the board as we celebrate the College and President Nembhard during inauguration festivities Feb. 29 and March 1. There will be many opportunities to engage with each other as we mark this momentous occasion. RSVP for events you can attend, and feel free to extend your best wishes via the guestbook (or in-person). The board continues to be impressed with the commitment and accomplishments of faculty, staff and students, and we appreciate your efforts on behalf of the College that we all love.
Jim Bean ‘77