By Anna Mulhern & Claire Strother
Senior Reporter and Executive
The St. Olaf Board of Regents convened over Zoom for their final meeting of the academic year on Thursday, May 6 and Friday, May 7.
The Regents discussed and voted on issues including the College’s continued response to COVID-19, equity and inclusion work, criteria for hiring a new President, the creation of a new department, divestment from fossil fuels and updates to campus housing.
Continued COVID response:
The Board of Regents is considering 95% of the community being vaccinated as full campus vaccination as the College looks toward the fall semester. Holding a normal fall semester is predicated on factors including vaccine efficacy and rate across campus, adequately ventilated spaces, physical distancing and mask usage. President David Anderson ’74 and the COVID-19 Response Team plan to announce in July whether they will require students to be vaccinated before they come back to campus.
In response to a proposal submitted by Climate Justice Collective, The Investment Committee voted to not commit to new private investments in fossil fuels. At the same time, the Regents voted to not actively take out their public investments related to fossil fuels — which account for less than 5% of such holdings — and rather wait for the contracts to lapse on their original timeline, ending at the latest in 2028.
The push for divestment at the College has been largely student-led and present for more than a decade. In recent history, the College has decreased the percentage of the endowment invested in fossil fuels from 12% to 6.1%, which still works out to a $38,827,939 investment.
Hiring PDA replacement:
Anderson will be leaving the College following the expiration of his contract in June of 2023. Current Board bylaws dictate that the Board of Regents is responsible for hiring a new College president.
However, the Board voted to amend their bylaws so that the president can be from any denomination that the ECLA has established full communion with, opening the door for a more diverse pool of applicants.
The Regents granted approval to the Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies — the department will house the pre-existing Race and Ethnic Studies (RACE) and Women’s and Gender Studies (WMGST) programs.
Both disciplines will remain as separate entities despite their umbrella department, and qualifications for majors or concentrations in either arena will stay the same.
The Board discussed the on-track status of the Ole Avenue housing project. It was also discussed that after the completion of the project in 2022, all campus dorms are set to be renovated sequentially; Mohn, Mellby and the combined building of Hillboe/Kittlesby being the highest priority.
Contributing reporting by Caroline Peacore, Staff Reporter