Alumni Association

Board Meeting Minutes | November 2, 2008

Attendance: Dr. Tomi Browne, Dr. Krista M. Davis-Anderson, Dr. David W. Friess, Dr. Harry Kaplan, Dr. Thomas J. Landry, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, Dr. Dennis H. Lyons, Dr. John. T. Ochsenreither, Dr. Robert A. Rosenberg, Dr. Kenneth W. Savitski, Dr. Karen M. Wrigley, Ms. Lynne C. Corboy, Ms. Heather S. Giampapa.

Dr. Landry called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m. Dr. Rosenberg moved to approve the minutes from the May 3, 2007 meeting with Dr. Wrigley seconding. The minutes were unanimously approved.

Dr. Savitski presented the Treasurer’s Report for both Fiscal Year 2007-08 and the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2008-09. [Please see attached.] Dr. Savtiski reported that with the recent economic downturn, the Association’s investments are in decline, with an $8,609 decrease since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st. Like most investors, the Association will have to continue to watch the market and the investments. Dr. Wrigley made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report, Dr. Ochsenreither seconded and the report was unanimously approved.

The Board voted unanimously to approve a gift of $250 as a student raffle prize at the Salus Day Celebration on November 3rd.

Dr. Landry gave the President’s Report and reported on the number of current alumni from the University’s programs:

  • Optometry Alumni: 6,230
  • International Alumni: 400
  • Online Audiology Alumni: 944
  • Residential Audiology Alumni: 10
  • College of Education and Rehabilitation (formerly Graduate Studies Program): 332

Dr. Landry reported on participation rates for all giving to PCO for the Fiscal Year 2007-08:

  • Optometry alumni giving for Fiscal Year 2008: 21%
  • Audiology alumni giving for Fiscal Year 2008: 12%

The Annual Giving goal was $180,000.
A total of $170,776 was received.
Alumni gave a total of $137,345.

The majority of these annual fund gifts came from the University’s phone-a-thon program with Ruffalo Cody, a fundraising telemarketing firm, with mail solicitations also playing a significant role in fundraising.

The Annual Fund goal for Fiscal Year 2008 is $180,000. As of November 2nd, $33,826 in cash had been received, with an additional $14,759 in pledges through the phone-a-thon. Calling began September 5th. Along with the phone-a-thon, appeal letters have been mailed to alumni and friends, with additional letters scheduled for staff and faculty and a calendar year-end appeal for alumni. This tele-fundraising phase will end in November, with another phase beginning in late February. Additional mailings will be sent to alumni in the spring and before the close of the fiscal year in June.

Dr. Landry asked the Directors to consider sending emails to classmates to give a personal effort to this year’s fundraising. Interested members should contact Heather.

Dr. Landry introduced discussion on an Alumni Association goodwill endeavor. Current University policy is to charge $50 to print duplicate diplomas, regardless of the circumstances. Dr. Landry proposed the following: when acts of nature such as fire, flood, etc. occur, the Alumni Association pay the cost of the replacement diploma. Dr. Lewis stated that the University would reimburse the Association, should the motion pass. Dr. Ochsenreither suggested that insurance might cover the cost, as well.

Dr. Savitski moved to pass the motion, Dr. Lyons seconded; the motion was unanimously approved.

Dr. Landry introduced Dr. Lewis. Dr. Lewis asked attendees to view the different University logos in their packets. [Please see attached.] In the PCO logo, The Pennsylvania College of Optometry is placed above before Salus University, the only College to hold this distinction. The George S. Osborne College of Audiology, College of Education and Rehabilitation and College of Health Sciences benefit from having the identity of Salus University above their names. A new University catalog and other marketing materials are currently in production. 

Beginning in 2010, optometry students applying to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry will do so through a centralized application program, a process currently used by most healthcare programs.

Dr. Lewis reported that the current economic downturn has impacted the University’s endowment with a loss of $5 - 6 million. Due to the current economic climate, renovations on The Eye Institute are on hold. When first proposed several years ago, the renovation was budgeted at $8 million. Subsequently, the College borrowed $5 million, with the thought that the additional $3 million could be funded through a campaign. In the ensuing years, estimated costs have grown to $13.7 million, and it is evident that raising the additional $8 million in this environment is not likely. Not only have alumni been affected financially, charitable foundations are also finding themselves with limited funding. The Pennsylvania state budget currently has a line for $4.5 million for TEI renovations. If that money was released to the University, the project could be a reality. Talks have begun with legislators and a meeting is being sought with the mayor of Philadelphia, but ultimately it is Governor Rendell who will make the decision.

Like many other colleges and universities, Salus University used the Commonfund to hold its short term investments. These funds are used over the course of a semester for payroll and other expenses. The Commonfund has been significantly affected by recent events. Wachovia Bank has stepped down as its administrator due to its own financial problems. Additionally, because of the difficulties in the credit and commercial paper markets, some of the assets in the fund have been frozen. The University has been able to withdraw 60% of its Commonfund investments, and expects to receive the balance between and now and 2010.

Linda Casser, new Dean of the Optometry College, will come to campus in January and it is hoped that an audiology dean will be in place soon.

A discussion took place on the Pennsylvania College of Optometry’s place within Salus University. Dr. Lewis acknowledged the delicate balance between growing as an institution and keeping the traditions of past. In communication with the optometric profession, including written materials and promotional products, the optometry college will remain the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. The Alumni Association will encompass alumni from each of the schools within the University. All diplomas will be printed with Salus University as well as the name of the individual college. It is important to remember that changes at every step have been considered with input from alumni.

Dr. Oschenreither gave the report of the Bylaws Committee. The Bylaws Committee met via conference call to discuss bylaws changes mandated by the new University status, as well as general updating. [Please refer to the attached draft of amended bylaws.]

To begin, each mention of The Pennsylvania College of Optometry or PCO was replaced with Salus University or the University.

Under article 2, section 3, language regarding an Alumni Association membership certificate now reads: “Membership Certificate:  A suitable certificate of membership shall be presented to each graduate.”

Under article 3, section 3, and article 4, section 7, language was changed to indicate that the President-Elect no longer must Chair the Student Relations committee.

Under article 3, section 6 and article 5, section 1, the fiscal year of the Association was changed to July 1 through June 30, in agreement with the University’s fiscal year.

Under article 3, section 12, language regarding ballot notification to the University’s alumni now reads: “The slate of Officers and Directors submitted by the Nominating Committee shall be posted online prior to the Annual Meeting.”

Under article 3, sections 6 and 13, language regarding requirements of Directorship was changed to read: “Attending or participating in at least two (2) scheduled Board meetings or Association activities.”

Under article 2, section 8 and article 6, section 2, language regarding meeting dates was changed to read: “The Board shall meet a minimum of three times a year, including the Annual Meeting.” 

Under article 3, sections 2, 7 and 9 and Standing Rule #4,  language was changed to reflect that the Immediate Past President no longer serves as alumni representative to the University Board of Trustees.

A discussion took place regarding the last amendment point. Dr. Lewis reported that the University Board of Trustees is being pared down, and in the future will deal mainly with policy and finances rather than academics and curriculum. There will be fewer prescribed board appointments to the University Board. For example, there will no longer be automatic appointments from the Alumni Association or Pennsylvania Optometric Association.

Academics and curriculum will be discussed and advised by College Advisory Boards for each of the University’s programs. Each College Advisory Board will have a seated representative from the Alumni Association.

A concern the Board of Trustees had was with the Alumni Association Immediate Past President coming onto the Board every two years was the continuous training of a new Board Member. As part of the plan to decreased University Board numbers, the Pennsylvania Optometric Association will no longer have representation.

The University Board felt the Colleges would be better served by having alumni on Advisory Boards containing between eight and twenty members selected by the College Dean, who will also serve on the advisory board. Alumni can ascertain if graduates are meeting the needs of the profession. The Advisory Boards will help to guide academic programs and fundraising. Dr. Lewis recommended that the Alumni Association discuss with the Deans the types of representatives that would be beneficial to the Advisory Boards.

It was noted that while the University Board has a number of trustees who are alumni (and whose terms will continue for at least a decade,) there will no longer be direct representation from the Alumni Association on the Board. A point was raised about future alumni representation, concern being that there could, in the future, be a point where no alumni representation is on the Board of Trustees. A representative from the Alumni Association Board would guarantee the continued influence and integrity of the Board.

Dr. Lewis indicated that if the Alumni Association Board developed a specific recommendation to the University Board of Trustees, he would submit that recommendation to the University Board. He recommended that the Alumni Association Board review the new Salus University board and committee structure so they could develop a well thought out recommendation.

The Alumni Association winter meeting will be a time to further discuss these proposed bylaws amendments and additional suggestions. The amended bylaws will be voted on at the Annual Meeting in May.

Dr. Lyons gave the Awards Committee report. In order to have a greater knowledge of nominees and wider discussion of their merits, the entire Alumni Association Board will now serve as the Awards Committee. Due to University status, it was suggested that each College have their own Alumnus of the Year Award to be given out as frequently as that College recommends. The language of criteria for the other awards, Distinguished Service Award, Public Service Award and Special Recognition Award, was altered to be University wide, rather than optometry only.

Board members were asked to begin considering of potential award nominees, and nomination forms will be emailed to alumni in the coming weeks.

Dr. Savitski gave the Reunion Committee report. The Reunion will be held this year on Saturday, May 2nd. This is the same weekend as the Pennsylvania Optometric Association’s annual meeting. Discussions were held concerning changing the dates of the Reunion and about Audiology and Low Vision alumni holding Reunions in conjuncture with their national professional society’s annual meetings.

Dr. Friess gave the report of the Student Relations Committee. Students are being recruited to serve on the committee, with the goal that students from each College will be represented. A greater Alumni Association presence during orientation week was proposed. It was suggested that the Alumni Association Board discover what type of interaction students would like with alumni, and that alumni reach out to students in their areas. It was suggested that the Alumni Association Presidents of the various optometry colleges gather at the AOA or SECO to discuss business.

With no new or old business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.