Board of Trustees provides update on their plans for the year

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William Jewell College sign at the foot of the College’s iconic hillside. Photo by Catherine Dema.

On Sept. 25, in a letter to the William Jewell College community, the new chair of the Board of Trustees, Bill Gautreaux, announced the results of the Board’s comprehensive evaluation of Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, president of the College. The email also stated ways in which the comprehensive evaluation feeds into initiatives prompted by a five-year Strategic Financial Plan.

In anticipation of the fifth year of Dr. MacLeod Walls’ collegiate presidency, the Board of Trustees conducted an evaluation of the president. The evaluation was led by Susan Chambers and Gary Barnes and took place between March and May of 2020. The Board interviewed 150 individuals, including trustees, faculty, staff, students, Cabinet members, Alumni Board of Governors and civic leaders in Kansas City.

These interviews indicated to the Board that there is a general sentiment of approval of and support for Dr. MacLeod Walls’ leadership. Specifically, Dr. MacLeod Walls was commended for her ability to remain positive in light of rather unprecedented challenges during her presidency, such as those posed by COVID-19.

Furthermore, the president has worked to elevate the status of William Jewell College in Kansas City in an attempt to combat declining enrollment rates and revenue. The president has also urged that the college adopt the principles of engagement, diversity, and in particular, radical inclusivity so that we can create a better and more appealing educational institution.

The interviews with the aforementioned 150 individuals indicated that there are three areas in particular which nevertheless still require attention: the first is that we must grow our student population, the second is that we must grow our revenue and the third is that we must reduce our cost structure.

In order to address these three areas, the Board of Trustees, in conjunction with efforts from the president and from specialized task forces appointed by the president, have created three initiatives.

  1. Intentional promotion of inclusivity in our critical thinking community.
    In an effort to attract a greater diversity of students, the College is actively providing resources to support minority students, staff and faculty. The College is also working to create a learning community that is inclusive. 
  2. Creating a market-responsive arm of the College for the purposes of audience and revenue stream diversification.
    Jewell plans on creating a market-responsive arm of the College that will focus on analyzing the market trends in education, such that we can attract more students by offering incentives including high school course accreditations and scholarships. 
  3. Enhanced pricing model.
    The College plans on creating a pricing model that more accurately reflects the cost of Jewell and which takes into consideration the needs of families of incoming students. 

These three initiatives are tied to a five-year Strategic Financial Plan that is currently being developed by Joe Garcia and the Strategic Financial Planning Committee. This committee was created to deal with practical financial situations by analyzing the College’s current and future expenses and investments.

As the new chair of the Board of Trustees, Gautreaux hopes to “transform William Jewell by fostering access, inclusivity, and life-changing opportunities,” stated the email.

The comprehensive report on MacLeod Walls is useful to the promotion of these goals, as they help the president and the Board to be in a better position to approach their shared vision of a more vibrant Jewell community.

Agatha Gutierrez

Angelica Gutierrez is the page editor for Lifestyle on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a sophomore majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas.

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