Last weekend the Wesleyan Board of Trustees was in town for its annual retreat. The trustees, almost all alumni along with several parents of Wes students, gathered this year to focus on two major topics: building the long-term economic health of the university, and imagining how Wes will look 30 or 50 years from now. We were joined by faculty, staff and students, and the discussions were animated and productive.
On Saturday we looked at the general profile of the endowment — past, present and future. There are three key ingredients to building an endowment strong enough to provide annual revenue for the operations of the school: gifts, spending, and investment performance. Over the last three years we have shifted our fundraising priorities so that we now invest more of the gifts we receive rather than spending them, and we have reduced the percentage that we draw from the endowment. Finally, we have hired Anne Martin, formerly a Director in the Yale Investment Office, to provide wise stewardship of our investment portfolio. Anne led the retreat participants in some exercises that explored how we choose the asset classes in which we invest, and how we choose managers within those classes. Everyone left with a greater understanding of how our investment operation works.
We also discussed endowment fund raising at some length, since all trustees are active friendraisers and fundraisers for the university. Chair Joshua Boger led us in some creative exercises in which we thought about our highest aspirations for Wes and how we might envision taking steps to act on them. One trustee suggested that we find a way over the next decades to do so much good for our students and the world that Wesleyan becomes a verb!
This week we had our inaugural faculty meeting of the year. Department chairs introduced more than a dozen new professors who are joining our ranks across all divisions. These are extraordinary scholar-teachers who have already begun making their mark. Listening to the descriptions of their research and the classes they are teaching filled me with confidence in the ongoing rejuvenation of our curriculum and of our ability to shape scholarly fields through original contributions.
I was Wesleyaned!