Updates from the USF Board of Trustees Fall Meeting

Dear Members of the USF Community,

I hope the beginning of the new academic year and the fall season is bringing you new discoveries, exciting collaborative work in and beyond your classrooms and offices, and time to reflect on the recent eventful weeks we have experienced together.

To the members of our community who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I wish you a sweet and happy new year. And to our Hindu community celebrating the autumn festival of Sharada Navaratri, I send best wishes as you prepare for Diwali, the festival of lights later this fall.

Sadly, there is worry, anger, and anxiety among members of our Iranian community, who are coping with the situation in Iran, where the death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini — who was targeted, arrested, and detained by the nation’s so-called morality police — has led to protests and, tragically, many more deaths.

Thank you for joining me in prayer for all USF community members who need our support and solidarity at this time.

The beginning of a new academic year also means that the USF Board of Trustees — the university’s principal governance body — has launched its 2022-23 meeting schedule. Last week, the board gathered on campus for its annual fall meeting and committee meetings. I am writing to give you a summary of the board’s actions.

[A quick reminder regarding our Board of Trustees: The day-to-day administration of the university is the responsibility of my leadership team and myself. The board is charged with holding in trust USF’s financial, physical, and human assets for future generations, and are stewards of our Jesuit Catholic tradition and our mission. They are responsible for ensuring that long-term planning and goals are defined and executed by the university community.]

At last week’s meeting, new board Chairman Jack Boland and Vice Chair Mary Del Santo began their leadership terms, and welcomed several new trustee members: Doris Cheng, USF alumna and preeminent San Francisco attorney widely known for legal work in consumer protection cases; Michael Engh, S.J., chancellor of Loyola Marymount University and former president of Santa Clara University; Daniel Giraudo, chairman, CEO, and majority shareholder of Andre Boudin Bakeries Inc.; Patrick Lee, S.J., rector of the Loyola House Jesuit Community at USF; Saul Peña, USF alumnus and vice president and shareholder at Dodge & Cox; Tony Scott, USF alumnus and CEO of Intrusion, Inc., a Plano, Texas cybersecurity firm; and Irma Velasquez, USF alumna, 2022 honorary degree recipient, and Bay Area social entrepreneur.

The board also welcomed two new constituent representatives who join the proceedings as non-voting members: Michael Webber, professor of sociology, president of USFFA, and faculty representative; and Ethan Lee-Bellows, president of ASUSF and undergraduate student representative. Raminder Attwal, graduate student representative, and Bobby Lee, alumni representative, returned for another year.

The annual fall meeting also took place soon after the university conducted its fall census of student enrollment and retention. That timely information provided a framework for a robust discussion of the university’s Integrated Strategic Enrollment Plan, introduced by Provost Chinyere Oparah, with details and data provided by April Crabtree, vice provost of strategic enrollment management, and Lester Deanes, assistant vice president of student engagement. Like many of our higher education colleagues, we continue to assess the impact of the last two years’ move to a primarily remote learning environment, as well as economic conditions that are affecting both domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students’ decisions about pursuing higher education.

A regular feature of each board meeting is an overview of an academic area at USF. Following a presentation by School of Law Dean Susan Freiwald, the board engaged in a discussion about overall trends in legal education, USF enrollment trends, bar exam pass rate progress, and opportunities for program growth at the school. 

The trustees also reviewed next steps as the university celebrates the successful conclusion of the “Changing the World from Here” campaign. As you may know, the fundraising campaign raised $312 million for scholarships, programs, and facilities at USF. I hope you will consider joining the campus festivities at CelebrateUSF, Oct. 21–23.

Thank you to all of you — students, faculty, librarians, and staff — for all you have done in support of USF and each other as we begin a new academic year. We have much to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead, including the progress of incorporating the building at 250/270 Masonic into our hilltop footprint.

I am honored to be part of this remarkable community.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.