October 2022 Board Meeting Update

The Trustees gratefully held our fall meeting in-person on the College campus October 20–22, 2022. It was great to be back at the College again, meeting face-to-face with administrators, faculty, staff, and students—both formally as part of the meeting agenda and informally at other times. We also prayerfully listened for God’s direction and what Mrs. Morgan referred to as God’s plan for Principia. These passages from Psalms served as a foundation for our time together: “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths” (25:4). “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me” (43:3). It was evident to us that they did.

For two days we worked side-by-side with administrators, staff, and faculty on exploring issues central to fulfilling Principia’s mission, then one day in executive session taking formal votes and looking inward at the Board’s function, progress, and the future. We had a full agenda!

The topics we heard administrative reports on and discussed included:

Spiritual Nourishment
The Board is very pleased with and continues to encourage resources and activities devoted to meeting the spiritual, Christian Science-based needs of all individuals on both campuses. Christian Science is clearly evident in daily experiences—the foundation for our thought, teaching, learning, and activities at an institution founded to serve the Cause of Christian Science. It is that light and truth that guides us and feeds us.

Student Care
Consistent with the treatment choice statement previously issued by the Board, Trustees and administrators invested considerable time discussing how to best support evolving student needs on both campuses. The College administration, for example, shared the challenges of providing support to students seeking medical care in a rural location without public transportation. After extensive discussion, the Trustees authorized the Chief Executive to provide on-campus or off-campus medical resources as needed and appropriate for those students choosing healthcare options other than Christian Science treatment—while emphasizing support for Christian Science treatment as the primary source of available care. Campus leaders will communicate directly with the community about specific student care details as they are planned, developed, and implemented.

Master Planning and Program/Services Reviews
The Board received an update on long-range master planning projects and met with two managing principals from Christner Architects, the firm that was chosen by each campus to lead master planning. This is highly important, long-range thinking to help guide our facilities efforts and future program opportunities, budget needs, and donor opportunities. The Chief Executive will keep the campus informed of planning efforts along with the results of ongoing program and services reviews nearing completion.

Employee Benefits
Extensive evaluation of existing benefits plans was reported to the Trustees with recommendations for improving and broadening them. The new benefits package was subsequently reported to the community. The Chief Financial Officer also led an in-depth discussion of options for an upcoming cost-of-living increase for benefits-eligible employees. The Board approved a target 3.0–4.5 percent increase on top of benchmark salary increases. The final number will be announced by the administration later in the fiscal year.

Principia’s 23 Policies Review
We heard a brief report from the Board-appointed committee of Trustees and administrators working to recommend updates and edits to our 23 Policies since they were last revised 39 years ago. The committee is working diligently and deliberately without restrictive deadlines.

Enrollment
The Trustees focused intently on efforts and plans on both campuses to increase student enrollment and to ensure the right resources are in place for domestic and international students, and students new to Christian Science. The Trustees are looking forward to hearing the results of extensive new marketing and recruiting efforts on both campuses. We were particularly pleased with the published high rankings honors for the School and the College. Principia deserves the recognition—and students deserve what we offer. 

International Students
Thirty-nine percent of College students are international (56 percent of the newly enrolled students), while 11 percent of the School student body are international (but 48 percent of boarding students). Administrators and Trustees discussed how those ratios are changing the resources needed for student financial aid, cultural issues, state and federal administrative needs, housing and break housing needs, campus employment, and year-round administrative support. One of our strategic goals is to be more international; we need to ensure we are meeting the needs of our international students in serving the Cause of Christian Science throughout the world.

TRB and Capital Expenses
The Board approved the administration’s proposed tuition, room, and board (TRB) rates for the 2023–2024 academic year. School TRB will increase 4 percent, and College TRB will increase 3.5 percent. A target capital budget of $15.7 million for the next fiscal year for planning purposes was approved for construction and maintenance projects on both campuses.

Town Hall
Board Chair Dr. Scott Schneberger and Executive Committee Trustees Bruce Bond and Mindy Savides will join administrators for an online Town Hall on Tuesday, November 1, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. (CT) for Principia employees. We look forward to a question-and-answer session about topics in this report and other issues of interest. Employees are invited to submit questions in advance to trustees@principia.edu, or you can ask questions live during the Town Hall Zoom webinar event. Participation requires advance registration. Please use this link

Principia has everything to be grateful for and more to look forward to—with nothing to fear—in expressing God’s good creation that includes Principia and each one of us.