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The Executive Leadership Team met on April 4 and the primary agenda items included parking during Welcome Week, Bethel’s portal Blink, annual performance reviews, external media coverage of Bethel, improving internal communications, and monthly updates on enrollment, budget, and the campaign.

Parking during Welcome Week: Avis Soderstrom, director of conference and events services, led a discussion about parking for Welcome Week. Parking lots at 3900 Bethel Drive see an increase in the number of cars on campus for the Thursday of Welcome Week as family members accompany their students as they start college. Avis requested that for one day of the year we could extend customer service. She proposed arranging for all employees with reserved parking spots and without to park in the back of the parking lots. Some employees might also consider parking at Anderson Center (ANC) and taking the shuttle to 3900 Bethel Drive for that day. Avis will work with a group of employees to finalize a parking plan to bring back to ELT for final approval in June.

Bethel’s Portal Blink: Michael Vedders, director of marketing, reported on Bethel’s portal Blink and a project to update it. Last summer we learned that we needed to update Luminous (Blink is our branded name for Luminous). Web services tested the new version over the summer and learned that updating to the new version would involve re-building everything on Blink. The team concluded that moving to a new platform, Bootstrap, will result in noticeably improved access for students, faculty, and staff. Michael and his team hope to launch the new portal in early August of this year.

2017 Annual Performance Reviews: Cara Wald, chief human resources officer, reminded the group that performance review time is approaching. This year the goal is to support employees and managers in having a conversation not only about goals, but also about strengths and professional development. There will be three opportunities for employees to attend a performance review workshop—not a training—to gain information and a chance to practice performance review conversations. The workshops will be held in early May and reviews will be due by the end of June.

Improve internal communications: Suzanne McInroy, director of communications, shared about a project to improve internal communications. Employees will receive a survey soon to gather more information on what is working well and what needs improvement for internal communications. Afterwards, she will develop an overall communications plan and bring it to ELT to review.

External media coverage: Suzanne also shared about some recent media attention regarding a faculty committee document from 1997 on using inclusive language in academic writing. During Spring Break, the document from 1997 was referenced in an article on the Campus Reform website and was written with a clear slant that implied Bethel was wrong for using inclusive language. The article was then picked up and re-written on about six other websites with much more of a negative tone and less accuracy. Some constituents saw the articles and contacted admissions, advancement, the president’s office, the provost’s office, and marketing and communications for more information.

Positive media coverage is expected in the next month related to Bethel University’s Inclusive Learning and Development (BUILD) program. Later this month, Maggie Erickson, one of our second-year BUILD students, is receiving the Lifeworks Personal Achievement Award from Lifeworks Services, a Minneapolis nonprofit serving people with disabilities. Mikayla Holmgren, a first-year BUILD student, was accepted into the Miss Minnesota pageant, making her the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in the pageant.

Campaign Update: Mark Miles, senior vice president for university advancement, shared a summary of income since the last ELT meeting. Bethel has received more than 800 new gifts valued at more than $2.8 million. Much of this came in from estate and deferred gifts. Mark added that University Advancement is finishing up a good fiscal year and that it could be one of the better ones in recent years.

Budget update: Pat Brooke, chief financial officer, explained that the Fiscal Year 2017 budget remains tight and advised ELT members to not spend extra money in their budget lines through the end of the fiscal year. Budgets for Fiscal Year 2018 are due this month and there are challenges ahead to balance next year’s budget, but Bethel is in better shape than the last two years.

Enrollment update: Vice President for Enrollment Management Tim Eaton emailed an update on enrollment to ELT members prior to the meeting. He noted that as of April 1, we are down 21 deposits in CAS compared to last year. The federal rule change for FAFSA completion makes interpreting this difference difficult. We hope our deposits are more firm this year than last, but it is too early to know. We still have a large number of accepted students who have not told us whether they are coming. Firming up this pool is the top priority. Transfer student deposits are also lagging but all other transfer student metrics look good compared to last year. April 1 was the PSEO deadline. We received 149 applications, which is down 9 students compared to last year.