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September 30, 2012

ISU, University Foundation move to strengthen bonds

TERRE HAUTE — In 2006, the Indiana State University Foundation restructured to “more clearly define the fundraising organization as a separate entity from the university it supports.”

Prior to that, the ISU president also served as president of the foundation.

Now, leaders of both the university and foundation say they are taking steps to improve communication, strengthen relationships and create a stronger bond.

The intent “is to ensure we are all working together,” Mike Alley said during a recent board of trustee seminar that focused on the foundation. He is a member of the foundation board and an unpaid adviser to university trustees.

(He is on a leave of absence from the board of trustees while serving as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue).

A successful comprehensive campaign recently concluded, and as of August, the foundation has new leadership in President Ron Carpenter. Now, both university and foundation leaders say it’s time to re-evaluate that working relationship.

In the reorganization that took place in 2006, “There was a desire to get a fair amount of separation between the two,” said ISU President Dan Bradley. Now, “I think there is a general feeling that probably we need to come back together somewhat,” although it doesn’t involve another structural change.

“We’re not changing the articles of incorporation or the memorandum of understanding between the two organizations,” Bradley said.

A few bylaw amendments are involved. “We need to ensure both organizations feel a high degree of interdependence and highly value the other,” the ISU president said.

Key players of both groups met recently and came up with a list of several areas to address. Those attending were Carpenter, Bradley, Alley, Randy Minas (ISU board of trustees president) and Brent Beeler (chairman of the ISU Foundation board of directors).

Among the areas they agreed upon were:

• The foundation president, Carpenter, will attend and participate in ISU trustee meetings. Carpenter will make a report similar to those made by leaders of the ISU Faculty Senate, staff council and student government.

• The annual performance review of the foundation president (Carpenter) will be jointly done by the ISU president (Bradley) and foundation board chairman (Beeler). It would be a collaborative effort, reflected in the bylaws, said Alley, who outlined the proposed changes.

The foundation would continue to have the sole right to hire and fire the foundation president. “We’re not superseding that,” Alley said. “This is just to ensure we do have a quality evaluation process in place and the university president is involved.”

•  The ISU vice president for business and finance, Diann McKee, would be a voting member of the foundation finance committee.

• The foundation would annually prepare a comprehensive report of funding sources and expenditures. “There would be a comprehensive spending review and evaluation that takes place,” Alley said. It would be reviewed by either the finance or audit committee.

• ISU expects foundation board members and staff to support the university and its priorities, “recognizing that its sole mission is to benefit the university.”

Alley said some of the agreed upon items are not so much changes as “agreement on both of our parts that this is how we’re going to operate.”

The hope is the agreements “create a stronger bond and better working relationship,” Alley said.

Some of the agreed upon areas will require amendments in foundation bylaws.

Carpenter described the measures as “reasonable,” and he anticipated the foundation board would consider bylaw amendments in October.

Minas said the changes are “not dramatic,”  but a fine-tuning. In 2006, the foundation did “gravitate away” from ISU by design. Now, “there is a little bit of gravitation back the other way.”

Carpenter, the new foundation president, also had served on the ISU board of trustees for many years. His hire is a good opportunity to improve communication between the foundation and university, Minas said.


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