Question & answer with Joe Bryan Jr., chairman of the board

The board of trustees meets at Guilford College every three months to make decisions about items such as tenure, finances and policy. Subcommittees of the board met this past Thursday and Friday. The full board met on Sunday.

Board chairman and Greensboro philanthropist Joseph M. Bryan Jr. ’61 recently gave $1.5 million to Guilford to boost an endowment for the Bryan Series, which he established with a $1 million gift in 1994.

He has given over $9 million to the college in total.

The Guilfordian conducted a Q&A with Bryan Jr. after the board’s Feb. 24 meeting.

Q: How long have you been on the board of trustees?

A: Oh, around 40 years. This has been a lot of work. This board is an active board, a working board, not a rubber stamp board … totally independent of the college’s administration.

Q: What have been some of the challenges for the board?

A: Well, balancing the budget and finance. We are cutting down the college’s deficit. While Kent (Chabotar) has been pushing for an increase in faculty salary, we cannot do that at this time.

In the current fiscal climate for the college, we can give one-time bonuses. Kent has fought for faculty raises, but the budget has not allowed it.

Q: Are there any common misconceptions of what it means to be a trustee?

A: When I was younger, I thought it was a great honor. Now, I see it as work.

At one point, I chaired three non-profits. Guilford College has a real working board. We do a lot of work between meetings.

Q: What challenges face liberal arts colleges?

A: I think small liberal arts colleges are in enormous trouble, and Guilford is not far behind.

It is going to require a lot more money to keep colleges like Guilford afloat.

Q: Are student voices important to the board of trustees? 

A: We have always encouraged student representation. I have not seen those representatives in several years, at least not at the full board meeting.

It was recently brought up that we ought to ask — to bring out — student voices. We are making an intentional effort to do that more and more.