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Trustees Discuss Governance and Investment Performance

October 28, 2013

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — At its first meeting of the academic year, Middlebury’s Board of Trustees last week discussed a list of recommendations of a governance working group the president and board chair established in 2012 to review how the board should be structured to best meet the needs and demands of a much larger and complex institution than the one that existed even a generation ago.

The working group presented recommendations that would amend the committee structure to provide trustees with more information about the operations of the undergraduate college, the Language Schools, the Schools Abroad, the Bread Loaf School of English, the Monterey Institute of International Studies and associated programs. The working group also suggested the merging of committee roles associated with fiduciary oversight and issues related to institutional resources, strategy, risk and governance.

As planned, following the discussion of the working group’s proposals last week, the board will vote formally on the recommendations and the new board structure at its December meeting in New York City.

At its meeting on Saturday, the board of trustees heard a presentation from Middlebury’s endowment manager Alice Handy, the CEO of Investure. Handy reviewed the long-term investment goals and strategy set by the board and the 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-year performance of the endowment. In the fiscal year ended June 30, the endowment earned 14.8 percent on its investments. As of Sept. 30, the value of the endowment stood at $991 million.

Handy also discussed steps the board and Investure are taking to more clearly define a set of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) investment principles and to increase the amount of the endowment invested in sustainability opportunities, including renewable energy. The board identified both of these initiatives as long-term goals at its meeting last May and approved of the progress made toward those goals.

Trustees approved a proposal to establish a Master of Arts degree in teaching Hebrew as a second language. The program, which will be administered through the School of Hebrew and the Institute for the Advancement of Hebrew, will admit its first students in the summer of 2014.

On Saturday, Sunder Ramaswamy, president of Middlebury’s Monterey Institute of International Studies, briefed the board on a long-term proposal to work with the city of Monterey to improve the institute’s urban campus. Hoped-for improvements include the creation of a more open and pedestrian-friendly central campus, new housing options for students and improved classroom and office space.

Before dinner on Friday, trustees toured the new Squash Center, which will open officially on Oct. 26, during Homecoming Weekend.