Trustees assess University issues

By Ethan Frenchman

The University’s endowment grew by over 6 percent in the most recent quarter, and the new dorm to be built south of the Midway is on schedule to open for the 2008 school year, according to the University Board of Trustees, who met over the past two days for their quarterly review meeting to discuss issues facing the University.

Under the bylaws of the University, the Board of Trustees is vested with the management of the University. President Don Randel and Board of Trustees President James Crown discussed the work of the Board of Trustees with Student Government and the Maroon.

Investment and Alumni Relations

The Investment Committee reported that “returns have been very good for the past couple of years,” Randel said. The most recent quarterly return of 6.1 percent, annualized at 24.4 percent, was “real good, but hard to do again,” Crown said.

The Alumni Relations Committee reported that the Chicago Initiative, the University’s major fundraising drive, is now crossing the $1.5 billion mark, making it three-quarters of the way to achieving its goal of $2 billion.

Student and Campus Life

The Student and Campus Life Committee discussed what it considered to be a continuing need to create programs that “increase the likelihood of students to land jobs that they want to land,” Randel said.

To do so, the Board intends to work with Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) to create “a structure for students pursuing careers in business” and finance, said undergraduate liaison and fourth-year in the College Ben Walsh. CAPS will help such students in job placement by suggesting electives and extracurricular activities that will make them attractive to employers.

Anne Harrington, the graduate student liaison, made a presentation to the committee addressing graduate students who are also mothers. The Board acknowledged that they have provided “increased childcare for faculty and staff, but have not yet taken steps for student parents,” Randel said.

Financial Planning and Campus Planning

Trustees compared the University’s tuition to similar schools, finding that while other tuitions have risen at a faster rate than that of the University, the U of C is “still quite high,” according to Randel. The University has the second highest tuition in the nation, behind Columbia University by $98. The top 10 schools, however, are within a few hundred dollars of each other.

The Board discussed a range of University building projects. The Trustees intend to invite distinguished architects to enter a design competition for the proposed Center for Creative and Performing Arts. Randel said the University hopes that attracting press attention with distinguished architects will “help in the fundraising effort” for the new center.

Construction on the proposed residential hall south of the Midway Plaisance is scheduled to begin this June. The dorm will open gradually, with two-thirds of the dorm being opened in 2008 to house students displaced by the turnover of the Shoreland. The final portion of the hall will open to residents the following school year.

Well known Chicago architect Helmut Jahn has submitted “very cool” schematic designs for two chilled- and heated-water facilities, said Dean of Students Steve Klass. The buildings will be on the northwest side of campus near the Center for Integrative Science and south of the Midway near the University Press building.

As a result of a gift of the Searle family, the University will be renovating the Searle Chemisty Laboratory. Also in the sciences, the Board has revised the budget for the Center for Biomedical Discovery due to “terrible inflation in the construction business,” dealing with which has been a “steady struggle,” Randel said.

The Board also approved a $20 million renovation of Rockefeller Chapel, which is still using its original electrical system from 1928. Other work will be done on the Chapel’s windows and façade.


Trustees have taken steps to comply with the relatively new Sarbannes-Oxley Act, federal legislation outlining best practices for public companies. Although the University, as a nonprofit organization, is not required to follow these rules, Crown said that such compliance was necessary to improve the standards of the University.