Thursday, Nov. 17 and Friday, Nov. 18 the Board of Visitors convened to pass 13 resolutions, hear updates on Phase One of the Dining and Facilities Comprehensive Facilities Plan and hear options of potential tuition changes.
Dining and Facilities Comprehensive Plan Phase One
The Committee on Buildings, Administration and Grounds met on Thursday and discussed current undertakings to renovate Kaplan Arena, dining facilities and residence halls.
“It’s really allowing all of us to continue to optimize and modernize our facilities, allowing us to attract and retain the best and brightest, as well as creating a financial model that will help sustain us into the future,” Interim Chief Operating Officer Jackie Ferree said.
The meeting began with the passage of two resolutions to conduct bond financing and debt reimbursement for the construction of the new Sports Performance Complex — a project that will allocate 36,000 sq. ft to spaces for strength training, sports medicine and new volleyball and basketball practice arenas.
Ferree then gave a presentation with an update on the progress of the Dining and Facilities Comprehensive Facilities Plan, which included renderings of Phase One renovations that were approved by the Design Review Board the day prior.
The College has been working with Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions in a pre-development agreement to develop the renderings shown at the meeting. They will now begin to finalize designs, conduct site work and pursue legal and financial agreements to consolidate a long-term partnership before construction begins next year.
“It really is starting to bring us closer to transforming our campus,” Ferree said.
Residence Life recently announced the closure and demolition of Yates Hall for the 2023-2024 academic year to make way for the construction of new dining facilities and residence halls on the West Campus site. The plan removes the 250 beds currently in Yates Hall and replaces them with 935 beds across four new buildings. A dining hall known as West Woods Dining will also be constructed at the 1A site and will replace Commons Dining Hall.
A significant part of the design process was ensuring that the new construction connected the West Woods site so it did not feel isolated from the greater campus. A new pedestrian bridge will connect West Woods to the Sadler Center area.
“I think that this completely aligns with many of the earlier goals that Ginger and her team provided of creating that sense of community and connectedness,” Ferree said, referring to Vice President for Student Affairs Virginia Ambler ’88, Ph.D. ’06.
Additionally, the West Woods site will include many areas for student activity and life, such as outdoor meeting areas.
“It’s welcoming, and the planning team has done an amazing job using the natural topography of the land to create these green and gathering spaces that we really believe that the students will immensely enjoy,” Ferree said.
The construction of a third residence hall will complete the Hardy and Lemon triangle at the Jamestown site. The design plan for the residence hall includes an entrance into the Triangle Garden so that students will not feel cut off from the rest of campus.
“It was very important to us as we close in the triangle that we weren’t closing in ourselves from the community and ensuring that there were still invitations to come into the triangle garden and then move the rest of the way through the campus,” Ferree said.
Ferree gave special attention to the sustainability initiatives for the new projects. The West Campus site will include solar panels, geothermal wells for heating and outdoor air pumps. At the Jamestown site, there are plans to update the existing Hardy and Lemon halls to connect to the geothermal wells and update all gas boilers to electric.
“The project begins our transformation to offer the best living learning spaces possible for our students and allowing us to match the excellence in our classrooms with the excellence in living environments,” Ferree said.
Student Assembly President John Cho ’23 expressed how impressed he was at the conclusion of the presentation and thanked Ambler for giving context to the student body at the Student Assembly Town Hall on Campus Living the day prior.
“I can speak on behalf of the majority of students that we are really excited and perhaps a little jealous to see these updates,” Cho said.
Construction is slated to begin in September of 2023.
Potential Tuition Increase
During the Committee on Financial Affairs on Friday, President Katherine Rowe celebrated multiple years of flat tuition while calling on the Board to support a tuition increase so that the College can “invest strategically.”
“I want to start by saying its an extraordinary thing to have kept tuition flat in state for five years, out of state for four,” Rowe said, but added that “we are now in a position to be able to plan ahead in the way we want, and that’s what we are asking the board to do, to plan thoughtfully for the long term and ensure predictable resources to sustain our high expectations for quality.”
Tuition and fees accounts for $249.3 million or 47.2% of 2023 total university budget, meaning that tuition plays the largest role of any singular funding source for the College. Continuing the flat tuition for another four years, which Rowe referred to as the “Base Case,” would lead to a $14.74 million shortfall in funding by FY 2027. Rowe also noted that, extrapolating from the original six-year plan without the flat tuition and with CPI projections, the College has foregone $26.8 million in revenue by FY 2027 due to the flat tuition rate policy.
“We are now in a position to be able to plan ahead in the way we want, and that’s what we are asking the board to do, to plan thoughtfully for the long term and ensure predictable resources to sustain our high expectations for quality.”
Rowe noted that the College has to pay for continuing investments — such as 1%-5% mandatory salary and benefits increases for faculty and staff and the new Dining and Housing Phase I — meaning that continuing the flat rate would provide “downward pressure” to College rankings and prevent the College from investing strategically. Rowe highlighted some potential strategic investments that could not be made without additional funding, including adding a summer semester, national marketing, reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 and IT renovation across campus.
With these in mind, Rowe presented the board with three possible alternatives to the “Base Case” which would increase tuition over the next four years.
The first alternative Rowe presented was to keep tuition flat for current students while increasing it for incoming class years. A 2% increase in tuition with this model would have a modest effect on the budget shortfall, reducing it to from $14.74 million to $11.3 million in FY 2027.
The second alternative presented was to differentiate in-major fees so that students in different majors would pay different tuition rates. Rowe did not say how the different major rates would be determined; however, she noted that many other institutions in the Commonwealth including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia use this model. The model for this alternative would lead to $11.66 million in additional funding above the current baseline by FY 2027.
“[This model] puts us in a position to address shortfalls and to have some investable capital for the kinds of strategic initiatives we’ve outlined,” Rowe said.
Finally, Rowe presented a third alternative which was to adjust tuition based off of a 10-year Trailing CPI Average. This model takes the inflation rate changes of the past ten years and adjusts the next year of tuition based off of them. Rowe said that this tuition plan would smooth out the impact of both recessions and strong years so that both families and the institution can expect “no big lurches.” The model for this alternative would lead to $3.21 million in additional funding above the current baseline by FY 2027.
The Board discussed the different options in small table groups, but will wait until the next Board of Visitors meeting to make a decision on increasing tuition.
Full Board Meeting
During the Full Board meeting on Friday, Rowe began by celebrating the recent accomplishments of the College’s athletics program, including commending Tribe Football’s 10-1 season. She set an optimistic yet serious tone for her presentation as she detailed the College’s long-term direction for the post-COVID era.
“We have to look ahead to address the present challenges that we know William and Mary will face over the next five to 10 years,” she said.
She presented Vision 2026, the College’s strategic plan, as a direct response to these upcoming challenges. Vision 2026 emphasizes Data, Water, Democracy and Careers as center points of its mission. Previously, Rowe has defended Vision 2026 after 214 faculty members signed an open letter to the administration expressing concerns about the lack of faculty input in the plan.
“We have to look ahead to address the present challenges that we know William and Mary will face over the next five to 10 years,”
“We’re in a strong position now and the challenges ahead are going to be thorny to sustain excellence in teaching and research in our community. The status quo is not an option,” Rowe said.
She also acknowledged the hard work of the College’s non-faculty employees over the past semester. In response, she praised the State of Virginia’s $1000 bonus for employees and also promised to seek a $500 bonus for part-time College employees.
“We depend on our people; that’s what makes it possible,” President Rowe said.
In the absence of President Cho, Student Assembly Chief of Staff Owen Wiliams ’23 gave a statement summarizing the Student Representative Report. Williams began his statement by acknowledging the passing of College student Alexander Gil ’26, along with students from the University of Virginia and the University of Idaho.
“Alexander was an aspiring international relations student and avid sports fan who was known for spreading joy and laughter in those who knew him,” Williams said. “His loss left a feeling of emptiness in our student body, but his memory is a happy one.”
Williams ended his statement by thanking the Board of Visitors and campus stakeholders for their commitment to improving the experience of the College community.
“The most important thing faculty do as faculty is hire new young, energetic and productive faculty,”
Rector Charles E. Poston J.D. ’74, P ’02, ’06 concluded the Full Board meeting by summarizing reports from Student, Staff and Faculty liaisons. He also lauded the arrival of a new “hiring season” for professors, and expressed his excitement in adding the new faculty to the College’s academic environment.
“One of my former mentors in the Physics Department told me that the most important thing faculty do as faculty is hire new young, energetic and productive faculty,” Poston said.
The Board of Visitors meeting finished at 3 p.m. on Friday with a groundbreaking for the Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts.
Resolution 1: A vacancy in the Instructional Faculty of Richard Bland College of William and Mary was filled by Robert Maher as Assistant Professor of Computer Science.
Resolution 2: Approval of the submission of the Richard Bland College 2022 Workforce Planning and Development report.
Resolution 3: Appointment to Fill Vacancies in the Instructional Faculty.
Resolution 4: Award of Academic Tenure.
Resolution 5: Faculty Leave of Absence.
(Further information on Resolutions 3, 4 and 5 are missing from the Committee on Academic Affairs agenda)
Resolution 6: Acknowledges the retirement of Peter A. Alces, professor in the College of William and Mary Law School and expresses its deep appreciation for his 31 years of service. Changes his title from Rita Anne Rollins Professor of Law to Rita Anne Rollins Professor of Law, Emeritus.
Resolution 7: Acknowledges the retirement of Tun-jen Cheng from the Department of Government and expresses its deep appreciation for his 30 years of service. Changes his title from Class of 1935 Professor of Government to Class of 1935 Professor of Government, Emeritus.
Resolution 8: Authorization of Debt Issuance for Kaplan Arena Project. According to Ferree, the resolution “allows William and Mary to participate in a bond financing through the state for up to $25M as needed for renovations to Kaplan Arena and construction of the Sports Performance Complex.”
Resolution 9: Authorization of Expense Reimbursement Associated with Kaplan Arena Project. According to Ferree, the resolution “allows William and Mary to be reimbursed with the bond proceeds for project related expenses incurred prior to the sale.”
Resolution 10: Approves of the 2023 Work Plan for the Office of Internal Audit.
Resolution 11: Receipt of FY22 Unaudited Financial Statements.
Resolution 12: Receipt of FY22 Unaudited Athletics Financial Statements.
Resolution 13: Approves a 3.7% increase in graduate student tuition rates in line with the six-year plan.