February 2024 Board Meeting

The Board of Trustees gathered for a productive and informative three-day meeting at the College February 15–17, 2024. 

The Trustees are always grateful for opportunities to connect with students and faculty who are contributing to Principia’s success, and we enjoyed interacting with many of you at the College during this visit. On Thursday, we had lunch with students representing the College’s highly successful Mediation Team and a dinner meeting with the College Faculty Leadership Team. On Friday, we had a lunch discussion with students on the CSO Board as well as Director of Spiritual Life/College Chaplain Roger Gordon and a dinner meeting with athletic coaches. 

The entire Board met with Dr. John Marr, staff liaison for the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s accrediting body. Dr. Marr was on campus for several days of meetings to kick off the College’s final stage of its 10-year comprehensive evaluation process, and the Board was grateful for this opportunity to talk directly with him. 

Administrative members of the Executive Team joined the Board for our regular reports and updates from administrators, Board committee reports, and question-and-answer sessions based on information provided in the Board Book distributed ahead of the meeting. Other staff members and administrators joined for specific updates from their areas. The Board received in-depth information regarding enrollment, student life, spiritual life, HR procedures and systems updates, and fundraising initiatives for both campuses.

Metaphysical Sharing
Each morning began with readings and individual sharing of inspiration from the Trustees’ daily metaphysical support for Principia. Some of the readings focused on supporting opportunities across Principia to renew, refresh, and revitalize: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9).

As we received updates of progress—as well as challenges—across the levels of Principia, we were grateful to acknowledge God’s ever-present guidance and the divine Mind perpetually in action through several citations from the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science Mary Baker Eddy. “Knowledge that we can accomplish the good we hope for, stimulates the system to act in the direction which Mind points out” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 394). “Progress takes off human shackles. The finite must yield to the infinite” (Science and Health, p. 256).

Board members expressed their deep appreciation to the Finance staff and campus budget teams for moving the budget development process forward and preparing the 2024–2025 fiscal year budget for discussion at this meeting. Shifting the budget approval process from June to the February meeting allows for budget implementation planning for the next academic year to begin immediately and supports long-range planning.

Based on that new budgeting calendar, the Board approved the institution-wide operating budget for the 2024–2025 fiscal year, with an endowment draw not to exceed 7 percent, an update of the previously approved 6.88 percent projected draw rate.

In addition, the Board approved a one-time extrabudgetary spend of $413,000 to support extra personnel and other expenses relating to the academic reimagining effort at the College. The Trustees affirmed their support for the College faculty and administrator efforts to reimagine the academic program to best support students in future years.

Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee Update
The Ad Hoc Policy Review Committee, which includes School and College administrators and Trustees, presented an update on their work for continued discussions of these foundational Policies. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policies 
Following a discussion with the campus heads and other administrators about how they are supporting students, teachers, professors, and administrators in navigating the use of artificial intelligence, the Board ratified the administration’s Preamble to the institution-wide Principles, Precepts, and General Policies for the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Principia: 

"All AI policies for Principia, from Early Childhood through the College, including shared services, shall be implemented in ways fully consistent with Principia’s Purpose and Policies. AI and related evolving technologies shall be implemented to support the training of students 'to think—and to think clearly, vigorously, fearlessly, tolerantly, unselfishly' (Principia Policy 6). Principia supports the intentional, thoughtful, and wise use of AI as a tool to enhance learning, boost creativity, and support business practices while consistently respecting ethical considerations."

It was inspiring to hear of the ways that Principia is developing campus-specific technology policies, supporting updates to the curriculum, and prompting original thinking and creativity alongside the ethical use of advancing technology. Our students are clearly being well positioned “to use technical skills and intellectual attainments for the betterment of humanity” (Principia Policy 10). We believe Principia is in the forefront of AI policy.

We are profoundly grateful for the role that Principia’s faculty, staff, and administrators play in providing extraordinary opportunities to our students. Thank you for your steadfast dedication and willingness to advance the Christ-idea in education. As the promise from Isaiah says, “. . . all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (54:13).