Inside Look at the Recent Process
By Nelson Bunn, ‘08
Feb. 16, 2022
Last week, voting concluded to select a new alumni member of the W&L Board of Trustees, a process that was designed by alumni, for alumni and was free of any interaction or influence from the Board of Trustees. Just under 5,000 alumni voted and impressively included voters from the Class of 2021 and as far back as the Class of 1946 (yes, two people voted who are 96!). The process has generated a lot of buzz among the alumni community and with current students, so how did we get to where we are today?
Last year, the Alumni Board, the leadership of your Alumni Association, submitted a proposed process to select a new alumni trustee that included a call for nominations, submission of letters of support and a review by a special subcommittee of the Alumni Board, which I was honored to chair as President of the Alumni Association and the full Alumni Board. Once approved by the Board of Trustees, the subcommittee started its work in September 2021. The Board of Trustees has a well-defined process by which they manage membership; this alumni-elected representative will serve alongside and on equal footing with all other trustees.
The subcommittee of the Alumni Board consisted of nine individuals: five women, four men, two people of color and one member of the LGBTQ community. Ages of the members ranged from the Class of 1973 to the Class of 2011. Over the course of several months, the subcommittee met multiple times via Zoom after work hours, often well into the evening. Given the new process and gravity of the task before us, we wanted to get this right and ask as many questions as possible in however long it took to get to a balanced slate of three individuals.
Here is where the actual mechanics of the process really kicked in. We received 107 total nominations, and ultimately 65 accepted their nomination and agreed to proceed for consideration. Each nominee was asked to respond to several questions, submit a resume, and acknowledge that they had reviewed the university’s strategic plan and trustee job description. Subcommittee members were provided with additional background related to the nominee’s post-graduation engagement with the university. The subcommittee also was provided with additional data points from the university on demographics for the alumni body and the current Board of Trustees, and reminded of the commitment the board itself has made to diversify its membership through its trusteeship process.
From the initial 65 nominees, the subcommittee voted anonymously to indicate who to advance to the next round. While there was immense consensus, we also had to compromise and consider the diverse viewpoints of our fellow committee members as we whittled the list down to 10 candidates, all of whom would make incredible candidates to be selected as a new trustee. As you can imagine, the discussions became longer and more in-depth as it became harder and harder to distinguish among the many qualified candidates to present a balanced and strong slate to alumni for consideration.
Ultimately, the subcommittee voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed slate of Calvin Awkward, Lee Rorrer Holifield and Lee Hollis. The slate then advanced to the full Alumni Board where I explained the subcommittee’s process and opened it up for any questions or comments on the slate. After minimal discussion, the Alumni Board unanimously approved the proposed slate of three finalists to put forward to the alumni for voting.
I’m proud of the work done by my peers on the subcommittee and thank them for their continued service to the W&L family. I continue to feel strongly that our proposed slate to the full alumni network was balanced and any single candidate would make a tremendous trustee. The process also identified a strong group of alumni who can contribute to the future of the university in a positive and meaningful way, and the Alumni Board and the broader university community will seek to engage these alumni in our efforts going forward. Our work continues and progress has been made, and I look forward to seeing more progress in the months and years to come. Go Generals!
Nelson Bunn, ’08, Alumni Association President (Chair)
Lindsey Strachan, ’09, Alumni Association Vice President
Jessica Jones, ‘11
Jane Ledlie Batcheller, ’03, ‘08L
Heather Brock, ‘90
Sam Englehart, ‘73
Sandy Hooper, ’97, ‘03L
Meredith King Ledford, ‘03
Beau Dudley, ’74, ‘79L, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement