Board Update: Spring Board Meeting
The SPS Board of Trustees met in early May, and what follows is an update on the work accomplished at that meeting. One of the board’s most important functions is to ensure that its membership reflects the requisite professional skill and experience to advance the School’s mission. Membership must also reflect the character of the School community as it is today and what it hopes to be in the future. Beginning on July 1, 2019, the board welcomed five new members who bring with them the wisdom and perspective born of diverse experience. They include:
• John D. Avery P’17,’20, head of artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics at Fidelity Investments
• Candice N. Bednar P’18,’19,’22, trustee and first vice president of the Greenwich Library and former member of the Executive Committee of Brunswick School Parents Association
• James F. “Jimmy” Crumpacker ’98, managing partner at Crumpacker Asset Management and chair of the board of the Oregon Ballet Theatre
• Susan M. Fales-Hill P’21, award-winning TV writer/producer, author, arts advocate, and chair of the American Ballet Theatre Trustee Emeriti Council
• Julia Pershan P’20, trustee of New York’s Public Theater, City Squash, and the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding and recent trustee of The Brearley School.
I will continue my role as board president; Candace E. Browning-Platt P’12 will serve as treasurer; and Catherine A. Gellert ’89 will serve as clerk. School and college admissions continue to be strong. On average, the School has enrolled 168 new students over the past three admission cycles, with 40 percent awarded financial aid. For the academic year 2019-20, SPS will enroll 166 students from a field of 1,381 applicants, putting the yield and acceptance rates at 72 and 17 percent, respectively. New students hail from 25 states and 11 countries. With final lists pending, members of the Sixth Form of 2019 will attend 70 different colleges and universities in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and four countries. The most common destinations include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, the University of Pennsylvania, Trinity, and the University of Virginia.
Finance and operations are always a priority for the board. New CFO/COO Dr. Caroline “Brooks” Seay has provided an instructive overview that identifies four competing stressors on the School’s resources: providing an outstanding education; investing in asset growth; developing and maintaining infrastructure; and preserving financial flexibility to invest in new programs and initiatives. With these realities in mind, the board approved an operating budget of $58.6 million for 2019-2020, which represents a 4.3 percent increase over the last fiscal year. The Grounds and Buildings Committee recommended – and the board approved – a $7 million CAPEX budget for the next fiscal year, which is a 3.4 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year. The fiscal year-to-date financial performance of the endowment is up 2.42 percent (as of April 30), while calendar year-to-date is up 9.62 percent.
Another responsibility of the board is the careful work of codifying procedures and setting policies to guide the School. Following the adoption last year of financial sustainability guidelines that ensure the responsible use of School resources, the board has approved a policy addressing principles and procedures surrounding gifts and terms and conditions of recognition, including renaming. Renaming has become an issue at various institutions in recent years. Having a framework to address issues that arise is important, and, in doing so, we are joining other schools, universities, and cultural institutions in being sure that our gift and naming policies are in alignment with our values.
A special thank you to Interim Rector Amy Richards for her extraordinary stewardship of the School. Amy approached her work with energy, perspective, and grace. She leaves SPS with many improvements, including greater efficiencies in operations and a full roster of best practices with respect to governance and administration. Most importantly, Amy has fostered the energy and joy that characterize the School community today. Her leadership has been outstanding. We are all the beneficiaries of her expertise, warmth, and wit, and wish her well as she returns with her husband, Frank, to the West Coast.
Archibald Cox, Jr. ’58
President, SPS Board of Trustees