With the ominous economic events of recent months as a backdrop, the Corporation will meet Friday and Saturday with a plan to discuss academic programs, including the state of the undergraduate College, the graduate and medical schools and the faculty.
The University's highest governing body, which last met in May, will focus on academic progress under the Plan for Academic Enrichment in the strategic discussion, attended by all members. The Corporation will hear from Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98, Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P'07 and members of the faculty.
Concerns about the prospect of a prolonged economic slump, however, are likely to pervade discussions about the University's strategic plans.
The economy "will be something that will be discussed throughout the weekend," said Russell Carey '91 MA'06, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and governance. The tone of the Corporation's discussions in coming days, he said, will be similar to that struck by President Ruth Simmons in a set of sobering remarks earlier this month.
The University should "expect to see little if any revenue growth in the next year," Simmons said at a faculty meeting Oct. 6. The return on the University's endowment is expected to be worse than negative five percent for the months July, August and September, she said.
The University's trustees and fellows will hold meetings of the various Corporation committees Thursday and Friday before regrouping for a strategic discussion Friday afternoon in MacMillan 117 - which will be attended by the whole group, as well as about two dozen members emeriti of the Corporation.
On Saturday morning, before decamping from College Hill, the Corporation will meet in University Hall to take formal votes on any points of action and to take care of regular matters of business, such as the formal acceptance of large gifts to the University.
Several of the committees are expected to submit reports to the general body at this weekend's meeting, including the Budget and Finance Committee, whose conclusions may have important implications for the University's immediate plans. With a growing financial aid budget and major elements of planned physical expansion yet to be completed or even funded - including a $70 million "Mind Brain Behavior" building - the Corporation may need to address some tough questions about spending priorities.
Friday evening, members of the Corporation will be invited to tour the recently refurbished Pembroke Hall, which will be re-dedicated at a ceremony as the new home of the Cogut Center for the Humanities. Pamela Rosenberg, director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a member of the Cogut Center's advisory board, will speak, Carey said.
Following the dedication, Corporation members and other invited guests will attend a dinner about the University's recent expansions in financial aid allowances.
Corporation members will also be invited to tour the renovated J. Walter Wilson, in which workers have been toiling through the night recently to complete in time for their arrival.
The retired members of the Corporation, who will not attend the Saturday business meeting, have a luncheon scheduled with Vice President for International Affairs David Kennedy '76, according to Carey.
On guard for protestorsWhile its meetings are closed, members of the Corporation will not be surprised if some uninvited guests demand their attention, Carey said. Students for a Democratic Society, the left-wing group that executed a takeover of a board meeting of the Rhode Island Public Transporation Authority last month, has said it will protest the Corporation's lack of transparency this weekend. Corporation members are "certainly aware" of the students' plans, Carey said. "We take appropriate precautions to ensure that (the meetings) remain closed," he said.Last month, about 50 students demonstrated in front of University Hall, demanding more community involvement in the Corporation's decisions. The group members have said they also want access to the minutes of those meetings, which under present rules are classified for 50 years.