Following the retirement of Dr. Norman Francis after 47 years of strong leadership as our president, the Xavier University Board of Trustees retained Dr. Susan Pierce to conduct an institutional review. Xavier had never before had the benefit of such a review. The Board of Trustees believed that Dr. Pierce could help our new president, Dr. C. Reynold Verret and the board identify traditions worthy of retaining and areas where improvement was needed and best practices could be employed. She did not disappoint!
During her three visits to campus over a two month period, Susan met individually with every member of the senior leadership team, a number of trustees, Dr. Francis, Dr. Verret and some members of the faculty. She also met with small groups of faculty, staff members and students and with the Executive Committee of the Board. She read a vast array of documents provided by Xavier.
Before composing her report Susan sought to gain a genuine understanding of Xavier and the challenges we face as a small private, historically black college which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and its lingering after-effects. She listened carefully and was attentive to nuance.
Susan Pierce provided Xavier with an important roadmap for the future. She provided insightful observations and made extremely helpful recommendations about: how the university was organized, admissions and retention, how we use financial aid, fundraising, student life, institutional positioning, how we allocate resources and develop the budget, and shared governance. She made specific, actionable suggestions that provided our president with the means to craft an effective action plan to implement needed changes.
Susan was a wonderful collaborator who took pains to fashion a review that would be of value to the university when completed rather than another report to be simply filed away. I am still astonished by the time and effort she expended on this project. She has a combination of wisdom and experience and I look forward to working with her again in the future.