As the non-voting faculty representative to the Board of Visitors, French professor Katherine Kulick is responsible for bringing the views of 596 faculty members to the panel that makes the College of William and Mary’s biggest decisions — it’s a difficult task, but Kulick said she relishes the opportunity.
“I feel fortunate to be in this position at this particular point in time,” she said. “We went through a very difficult time last year. If we are to move forward, then we need to establish strong working relationships.”
The key to those relationships is communication, Kulick said. She believes the turmoil that erupted on campus in the aftermath of former College President Gene Nichol’s resignation was due in large part to ineffective communication, both from the BOV and from students and faculty.
“There were lots of requests coming in last spring about how the board could better communicate with us, and yes, there is room for improvement,” she said. “I think there’s also room for improvement on our side in communicating early and often our thoughts and points of view so it doesn’t become a reaction after the fact.”
Kulick thinks the board made the right decision in permanently appointing College President Taylor Reveley without conduting a more widespread search for a new president.
“Last spring, I was one who, at the time, was hoping for an immediate search,” she said. “Over time, I’ve come to see a broader perspective on things, and I believe that it is a good choice to have appointed President Reveley to a longer term.”
Kulick was present at the board’s closed-door discussion of Reveley’s appointment Sept. 5, and was asked to discuss the faculty’s position at length.
To gauge the opinion of the College’s faculty, Kulick relies on channels of communication forged during her tenure as president of the Faculty Assembly in 2006 and 2007. Serving in this capacity is a formal prerequisite to becoming the faculty representative to the BOV.
Kulick also served as the chair of a liaison committee between the FA and the BOV during her time as the FA’s vice president. In this role, she helped establish the agenda for faculty presentations to the BOV, including sessions devoted to the results of the faculty survey, which is administered every three years.
This year, Kulick expects financial concerns to take up the bulk of the BOV’s discussions. BOV Rector Michael Powell ’85 assigned her to the BOV’s Committee on Financial Affairs, and she plans on taking an active role at the fiscal meetings.
“I think we’re all recognizing now that we’ll never be able to go back and enjoy the same level of support from the state,” she said. “It becomes fundamental to identify how the College will come up with the approximately 80 percent of operating costs to keep this institution moving forward, and to maintain the quality of the students, the grad students, the faculty and the staff.”
Kulick identified three important components of the College’s budget that the faculty hopes to maintain despite the cuts: undergraduate and graduate financial aid, research and faculty salaries.
“Those areas must be preserved,” she said. “It’s important that students have access to the institution, that we can recruit and hold onto the faculty, and that research — the basis of any institution — can go forward and is not compromised.”
Also on the BOV’s agenda will be a revision of the College’s aging Strategic Plan, something Kulick believes is essential in advancing the College’s interests.
“The strategic planning is 14-years-old — how can we still be holding onto that and hoping that we still share common goals for this place?” she said. “We don’t have our specific goals lined up. We need to have the necessary conversations as a community to identify these goals and aspirations, and tie them to a financial plan.”
The BOV will be meeting this Thursday and Friday in Blow Memorial Hall. The BOV is expected to begin its meeting at 8:15 a.m. and continue through Friday at 1 p.m.
Board members will attend a celebration for the new School of Education building at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The celebration will take place at the facility’s construction site, which is located on Mount Vernon Avenue.
All BOV meetings are open to the public.