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The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

Board of Visitors Recap

President Kelly addresses issues that have caught his attention
Christopher Newport Hall taken by Savannah Dunn

The November 17 Board of Visitors meeting had a range of topics from Mental Health Awareness to increasing admission rates. President Kelly spoke on the things that have caught his attention. 

The President’s Leadership Program (PLP) is one thing that is of interest to Kelly as he is interested in learning more about the program and how it functions. Previously Kelly had expressed some of the challenges in funding the scholarships for the program. He said only 53% of students accepted into the program see it all the way through. He plans to do research into figuring out why this is. 

Kelly also prioritized the mental health of students in the meeting as CNU has seen an increase in the use of clinical services. Almost 400 students have visited the counseling services at some point this semester which is an increase of 6%. As well as having students attend over 2,000 appointments which is an increase of 27%. The question for Boris G. Robinson who is chair of the student life committee was whether more students were attending more sessions because of need or that people were better aware of the resources available.

There was also a report from the student life committee that first-year students were having social challenges which included personal relationships, feelings of being overwhelmed, lacking a connection with the campus, and financial and career-related issues as well. 

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The Office of Admission and the recruitment of students is another area of focus Kelly would like to gear the university’s budget toward. “We currently have the highest net cost of any state university in Virginia, and this is a barrier for low-income students and a competitive disadvantage for others.” 

This has contributed to a decreasing yield rate for admitted students. Kelly also mentioned that they will look at the cost and attendance of out-of-state students. 

Kelly also plans to remove barriers for transfer students and “members of the military transitioning to civilian life.”

There are talks about bridge programs between local community colleges and CNU where students can transfer in more easily. Financial aid and funding for these potential students are being looked into as well.

Student tutoring appointments and group review sessions were up this year as well as the number of referrals for at-risk students has decreased. There has been a 5% increase in first-year midterm grades this year compared to last year.

The number of student applications for the fall 2024 freshman class is up 10%. They are aiming to increase the new freshman class size to 1200 and increase the amount of out-of-state students.

CNU has been ranked nationally among Master’s Colleges and Universities for participation in short-term study abroad. As well as 10th overall for study abroad participation. Nationally only 5.9% of undergraduate students study abroad compared to the 26.9% at CNU.

Kelly mentioned that CNU will be going greener in 2024. This will be helped by a $250,000 gift they received. Kelly emphasized that CNU does a good job with energy conservation and efficiency as well as recycling, however, noted the need to share this with the community.

“When I met with the students sustainability group and the faculty leaders we collectively agreed we can do more and we will in 2024,” said Kelly

In January 2024, Jennifer Latour will be promoted to Chief of Staff. Kelly said that more information will be released to the community at a later date.

The board discussed how they were reminded that they are an “arm of the commonwealth” and their job is to make sure that funds are being properly used. The board will look to understand budgets and to do a “deep dive” into the budget, said Rector Lindsey Carney Smith.

The executive committee talked about the statewide 2% salary increase for all state employees which included the president and board unanimously passed salary increase.

With the recent state elections, there have been changes in the state house and senate. 

“[This] means that there’s going to be new leadership in both the House and Senate,” said Ronald L. Tillett the chair for the finance and committees board. 

This along with the democratic majority in the Senate and the House along with the governor will create “interesting Dynamics in terms of what goes through the session, what doesn’t go through, what’s be vetoed, what’s overridden.” 

The university will have to find ways to fund the Virginia Military Survivors Independent Education Tuition Waiver Program. They have requested additional funds for it.

Academic affairs had a 2.5 million dollar reduction from their 53 million dollar budget, 88% of that came from staff reductions. They went from 282 staff members to 272 as well as reducing the amount of classes taught by adjunct professors. Some classes also increased in size from 19 to 24 students although that is “still in line with what other universities CNU’s size are doing” said Carolyn Davis Director of Finance and Administration for Academic Affairs.

The Student Government Association presented to the council information they learned through their Student Accessibility open forum. 

The link to the recording of the board meeting can be found here:


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