Meeting sets stage for changes

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With the Guilford Edge set to shake up Guilford, the Board of Trustees met on Feb. 23 and 24 to discuss the progress and implementation of the Edge, as well as the developments of other Guilford projects and committees.

“I am pleased to share that the Board of Trustees has officially endorsed the continued development and implementation of a reimagined educational experience we are calling the Guilford Edge,” wrote President Jane Fernandes in an email to all students.

The Edge is intended to improve the student experience and attract more students to Guilford through proposed changes, such as an altered academic calendar.

The Board endorsed the Edge and approved a budget of $1.4 million for the program between now and June. The Board wanted to ensure that Fernandes has the funds necessary to implement the Edge.

“I trust her judgement that she will be able to do what is needed,” said Ed Winslow III, chair of the Board.

Fernandes noted that she did not intend to spend all of the $1.4 million allotted for the Edge.

The Board also recognized Community Senate President Hector Rivera Suarez for his comments on the Edge program. Suarez emphasized the importance of student involvement in creating these changes.

“When we are having this conversation, we have to keep students in mind,” said Suarez. “I feel like the people who will make the Guilford Edge as good as it can be will be the students.”

Suarez also feels that the College should enlist the Community Senate to help with the Edge program.

Aside from the Edge, another topic of discussion at the meeting was the results of several Guilford committees.

The Advancement Committee reported that their fundraising hit $3.8 million, which is an increase of $600,000 from this time last year, and that on Giving Tuesday, they raised $40,000 from 300 people. The committee also took the time to recognize its donors who have given $25,000 or more, some of whom are Board of Trustees members.

“We’ve had a number of wonderful gifts since the last Board meeting in October, and we really have amazing benefactors,” said Vice President for Advancement Ara Serjoie.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee spoke about the progress of the current construction and renovation projects. Both Binford Hall and the athletic facilities are currently under construction and are on schedule. Hege-Cox Hall is in the permit stage of development, while Milner and Bryan Hall are in the design stage.

The head of the committee, Nancy Quaintance, also stressed the need to catch up on deferred maintenance, which involves work to the Ragan-Brown Field House, campus sprinkler systems and Dana Auditorium.

“There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement for these projects that we have going, particularly around the community spirit element,” said Quaintance.

The Finance Committee presented on the positive numbers that have been produced relative to the College’s investment. Guilford’s investment returns have performed 3.5 percent better than comparable funds. This leaves the endowment balance at $83 million, which is the highest it has ever been. Since 2014, the endowment has grown by $15 million.

The Quaker Life and Diversity Committee was represented by D. Hector McEachern, who read a prepared statement from William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies Wess Daniels, who was recently appointed a member of the senior team by Fernandes.

“The Friends Center, like the rest of the College, is undergoing change and transition,” wrote Daniels in the statement. “(The Friends Center) is working to reposition itself as not simply the identity department of the school, but the caretaker of the soul of the College.”

McEachern also highlighted Guilford’s foreign exchange program, which includes students from countries such as Nepal, Chad, Palestine, Japan, Sudan, Mexico and Burma.

“We ought to lift that up as something to be proud of,” said McEachern. “To have that kind of diversity is powerful.”

The Office of Student Affairs also spoke at the meeting. The group discussed the steps it has taken to improve student life, including focusing on student retention, increasing sexual harassment awareness and expanding the number of student organizations that provide peer support, such as Sister 2 Sister. The Office also mentioned the recent implementation of Guilford’s first gender-inclusive hall community, Shore Hall.

The meeting concluded with statements from Martha Summerville, secretary of the Board of Trustees. Summerville mentioned Guilford’s need to improve or update bylaws and committees to help with the transition into the Edge. She will be bringing bylaw recommendations to the next Board meeting.

Winslow believes that the changes brought on by the Edge will benefit Guilford.

“We got challenges that we have in common with other similarly situated, independent liberal arts colleges and universities,” said Winslow. “The encouraging thing is, I think we are ahead of the curve in taking these challenges on.”

Editor’s Note: The online version of this article has been edited.