Updated: May 24, 2021 at 8:40 p.m.
The Board of Trustees passed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year at a meeting Friday.
The budget approval comes on the heels of ongoing disagreements between faculty members and University leaders over which areas of funding to prioritize in the FY 2022 budget. Faculty have argued that officials should direct more funds to research endeavors to make up for lost opportunities during the pandemic, but administrators have said they view the upcoming fiscal year as a “transition year,” looking to allocate money to a surplus to invest in the University’s long-term well-being.
“Even with the faculty concerns around the schools or college-level funding – and that’s the place where the deans actually have discretion – research-related travel and the dean’s research funding were prioritized in the target,” Board Chair Grace Speights said in an interview Friday. “So you know we feel that there is a priority that has been given to research.”
Joe Cordes, the co-chair of the Faculty Senate’s fiscal planning and budgeting committee, said the budget includes expanded funding available for faculty merit pay increases but also limits use of departmental funds for expenses like research.
Cordes said there is no formal limitation on the use of departmental funds, which include unrestricted gifts from donors, but officials are recommending that faculty defer their requests of the funds in the upcoming fiscal year since they are subject to an “overall spending constraint.”
He said the decision to increase funding for merit increases while recommending departmental fund restrictions appears to be an “internal contradiction” but is part of a “tradeoff” that financial leaders often have to make when building budgets.
Trustees also approved a new policy to assess institutional risk when considering naming opportunities and introduced Bruno Fernandes, the University’s new treasurer and vice president of finance, during the Board meeting. Richard Jones, the president of the GW Alumni Association, also announced he would be stepping down at the end of his term and will be replaced by Christine Brown-Quinn, an alumna of the School of Business and a member of its Board of Advisors.
The Board adopted a resolution of appreciation for School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries, who will depart at the end of June to head the nursing school at Vanderbilt University.
“She has modeled exemplary administrative leadership throughout her tenure and has worked to mentor future academic leaders within the school and University-wide,” Madeleine Jacobs, the Board’s academic affairs committee chair, said at the meeting. “She has provided extensive service to the University, and we express appreciation and gratitude to Dean Jeffries for her distinguished years of service and her dedication and commitment to GW.”
Trustees also recognized two retiring longtime GW staff members with resolutions of appreciation. The resolutions honor William Carnago, the director of Board operations, who will retire after 21 years at GW, and Beth Nolan, the senior vice president and general counsel, who is retiring after 14 years and was named general counsel emerita.
The Board approved updates to the Code of Academic Integrity and Code of Student Conduct, like eliminating permanent records for low-level academic violations, to establish a greater “restorative” approach for those violations.
Officials said the changes will allow them to address these lower-level cases in an “educational” way while increasing consequences for repeat offenders.
The revisions also include an increase in representation among academic panels and other small changes to the academic integrity code’s language for clarification and efficiency. The Student Association and Faculty Senate approved the changes to the code in March.
The Board also approved the nominations of Adam Conner, Pamela Lawrence and Sam Shekar as new trustees for four-year terms beginning this June and extending to May 31, 2025.
“On behalf of the committee, we’re excited to welcome this group of outstanding individuals and look forward to the opportunity to meet with them and actually to see all of you in person at an upcoming meeting,” said trustee Mark Chichester, the chair of the Board’s governance and nominations committee.
This post was updated to clarify the following:
This post was updated to clarify that Richard Jones will step down at the end of his term as president of the GW Alumni Association.