The University of Indianapolis Board of Trustees is a group of individuals from the university and the community who come together to set plans in place that will guide the institution for years to come.
The Board of Trustees is always looking down the road and trying to better the school and the community as a whole, according to UIndy President Robert Manuel. While the administration focuses on managing the university, the Board has fiduciary responsibility and manages the policies of UIndy.
The Board is made up of members from a variety of fields. Members are nominated by other members of the Board, then vetted and interviewed by the governance committee that decides whether or not they are fit for the vacancy the board has, according to Manuel.
“Part of what you do when you’re in the makeup of your board is have people looking at the university, bringing viewpoints and expertise to bear the things that are important to your university, so have financial people that can help you with your investments and your budgeting and the long term views of the financial picture,” Manuel said. “You have community leaders that help you connect to the community and because we’re at a Methodist institution we have United Methodist members.”
The Bishop of the United Methodist Church is one of three ex-officio members on the 38 person Board of Trustees, a member whose voice is on the board only because of his or her office. The other two are Manuel and the President of the Alumni Association.
The full board, also called the Board Executive Committee, only meets three times a year, and is made up of smaller subcommittees that meet more often. The Intellectual Life Committee deals with athletics, retention, admissions, academics and space, the Finance Committee does audits and makes sure money is being spent correctly. The Advancement Alumni Committee and the Risk and Compliance Committee make sure the university is following all federal, state and local laws while also looking out for potential risks to the university, according to Manuel.
One of the individuals on the Board of Trustees is Senior Vice President for Human Resources & Diversity at Eli Lilly & Co. Stephen Fry, who also serves as Vice Chair of the Board.
“The importance of the Trustee board is to work with the president and the administration to make sure that there are as many perspectives as possible working towards the long term vision,”Fry said.
The purpose of the Board of Trustees is to create plans for the university to keep it on track for the next 10 to 15 years, according to Fry.
“If you don’t have a long-term vision for where you’re headed, you could easily make short term decisions that take you off the path you really wanted to go, and I think that’s true of any business, institution or university and quite frankly, I think it’s true in people’s lives in general,” Fry said.
In general, the Board of Trustees and the administration are in constant conversation, dealing with housing, investments in new programs, how much money to put into faculty versus administration and student scholarships, Manuel said.
“At any given time in the university’s history there are decisions that are made about saving and investing,” Manuel said. “…Where we were five years ago when we adopted Vision 2030, which was the strategic plan…was at a place when we knew we were going to have to invest in certain facilities, programs and people, in order to be where we are right now with our enrollments and the impactful education we provide.”
While many changes around campus have already taken place as part of UIndy’s 2030 Vision plan created by the Board of Trustees five years ago, other changes are still to come.
Since the adoption of the plan, UIndy has seen the construction of new residence halls and apartments, the renovation of the library, the creation of the state’s first Division II men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, the addition of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering and connections with the community, including plans to bring the redline to campus. However, the more important changes are still to come, said Fry.
“I think the things that are not as evident in sort of walking around campus and seeing are the interactions of the school and the Professional Edge Center, some of those sorts of programs that are offering the students a different perspective and a different way to learn and grow to prepare them for service as they leave the university are the most important parts of the plan,” Fry said.
Fry said it’s important to know what you want to accomplish and how long it will take you, especially when planning so far in advance.
“Time is the most precious resource we have and in my experience the older I get, the more I appreciate that,” said Fry. “We have to decide how we want to spend our time to leave the most impact we possibly can leave.”