It has truly been an unpredictable and challenging year for TU. We’ve responded to a global pandemic, faced our ongoing budget challenges, started implementing a top-to-bottom organizational redesign to improve our performance and taken an unvarnished look at the grave and systemic issues of racism in our society. We held our first virtual graduation ceremony, we pivoted to online learning in a matter of days and our alumni network and donors continue to be enthusiastic and supportive. I do believe it is “we” – the TU community working together – that have made all this progress possible.
Yesterday, TU’s Board of Trustees approved our budget for FY21 – which, despite these significant headwinds, represents a 55% reduction in our operating deficit. This is truly remarkable, and we’ve done it in as fair, balanced and equitable a manner as possible, with minimal impact to our academic footprint.
We’ve also had to face leadership challenges. Former President Clancy stepped down amid health concerns, and it is my honor to serve as interim president during this time of transition. There will also be leadership change at the board, and I’d like to specifically acknowledge the role of outgoing board Chair Fred Dorwart, whom I’ve had the privilege of working with closely over the past two-plus years. He brings a focus, passion and strategic acuity that has been, and will continue to be, vital to this institution. I am delighted that he will remain a member of the board and its Executive Committee.
I am also so pleased that TU will now have its first female board chair in Dana Weber. Dana, a double TU alumna, brings to the position a wealth of business experience, a breadth of local and national networks from her extensive nonprofit work and public service and an unyielding commitment to strengthening TU. I also think it bears noting that for the first time in TU’s history, the top leadership positions — board chair, interim president, acting provost and Faculty Senate president — are all women. I am so looking forward to working closely with Dana as we continue to move forward.
It has been quite a year, and what the next year will bring, none of us really know. But we do know we have much more work to do to meaningfully address bias and issues of systemic racism on our campus and in our community. We know that some of the hardest work facing us in meeting our budget mandate lies ahead. And, we know that COVID-19 could continue to upset our best-laid plans.
As we close out the fiscal year and start meaningfully looking at the year ahead, I hope that you all have the opportunity for some time off, to disconnect and recharge and to spend time, even if it is virtual, with family and friends. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to TU.