Message from the Board of Trustees (sent to Faculty and Staff on 04/20/2020)
Higher education has faced many obstacles over the past few years. Those obstacles are even more challenging now with the coronavirus pandemic. These new challenges further highlight the need for immediate attention in both short- and long-term planning and the way we deliver our educational services.
Bradley faces these challenges while transitioning to our new president, Stephen Standifird. In a recent joint video message from President Roberts and incoming President Standifird, you heard them talk about how they are working closely together to navigate the challenges ahead. Because of this, we are uniquely positioned for a seamless leadership transition to ensure Bradley University’s long-term success. As such, President Roberts and President Standifird will assume dual duties as president of Bradley University May 1, 2020. Until the end of his term, (May 31, 2020) President Roberts will continue to oversee the day to day operations of the university and President Standifird will focus on the university’s financial stabilization, along with the planning for and implementation of its overall strategic transformation plan.
The short- and long-term success of the university will be President Standifird’s highest priority as he moves into his position. President Standifird has already demonstrated his commitment to Bradley as he participates in ongoing discussions with the administration and others and prepares himself to address the challenges we face.
During this difficult time, there is a role for all of us, and we will need to make a number of complex board-level financial decisions going forward. In conjunction with the group President Roberts outlined previously, the Board of Trustees will create a special financial planning committee whose charge will be to adopt a two- to three-year financial plan. This team, made up of members of the board, will engage in regular, specific and focused communications with President Standifird and Bradley’s CFO. The formation of this group allows for this vital planning to occur without having to wait for regularly scheduled board meetings or special meetings of the board’s current property and finance committee.
With the support of the Board of Trustees, President Standifird will create an advisory group made up of faculty and staff to identify and realign Bradley’s place in higher education post-pandemic while maintaining our tradition of excellence in value, students, faculty and outcomes. While the burden of making decisions falls on the senior administration of the university, the input from this advisory group will look at where Bradley fits in the market, the students for that market and how these students want to learn, what changes to our academic programs are necessary to meet this market demand, and what growth and investments do we need to make to meet these changes. President Standifird will provide more information about this advisory group in the coming days.
These fundamental questions must be asked and answered honestly and explicitly to position us for the success we hope to achieve. The magnitude of this task is not lost on any of us, but if we are thoughtful in how we go forward we can emerge from this crisis positioned to thrive.
The next 24 months will be very difficult for Bradley, higher education and our country. However, we were founded by a woman who did not let hardship deter her from her mission. That is a guiding light that most universities do not have. That is the legacy and inspiration of Lydia Moss Bradley. That is our legacy and inspiration, and we will live up to it.
James E. Shadid, Chairman Bradley Board of Trustees
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