Construction costs continue to mount

Total costs for negotiating a take-over contract of the Student Apartment Complex hit $300,000 at the Feb. 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

The board voted to give Schenk, Price, Smith and King, the Morristown-based law firm that negotiates the agreement with the College’s insurer, an additional $40,000. The firm has been negotiating with Liberty Mutual for the entire academic year and still has not been able to close a deal.

The board also approved legal costs for the Science Complex and other construction litigation projects, giving $100,000 to Thompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld and Barry, the firm representing the College.

In other construction allocations, the board set aside $58,745 to Kinsey Associates for architectural services on the athletic complex, $84,000 to Turner Construction to manage the construction of the fields, $204,000 to TBS Services Inc. to provide design services for roof repairs and replacements and $140,929 to the New Jersey Department of Transportation to reconstruct Parking Lot 5.

The board announced that any changes in campus construction orders need to be signed by Curt Heuring, vice president of Facilities Management, Construction and Campus Safety.

The board also approved the payment of $11,390,822 to Sodexho for its annual food service provider contract with the College.

The board approved granting honorary degrees to three lawmakers at Commencement on May 12. Recipients are William Baroni, Republican state assemblyman, Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Democrat state assemblywoman and Christopher Smith, Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The senior class suggests individuals to receive honorary degrees at Commencement. Approved nominees are contacted by the College president’s office to see if they are interested in accepting.

In her president’s report, R. Barbara Gitenstein praised the high quality of applicants that the College received for the 2006-2007 academic year. On average, the applicants have the same class rank and SAT scores as the current College students, with the average SAT score of admitted students at 1330.

“The process continues to keep Lisa (Angeloni, dean of Admissions) and her staff very, very busy,” Gitenstein said.

Despite the sharp increase in fuel prices during the winter months, the board reported that it was “on track” to end fiscal year 2006 on budget. The board complimented Barbara

Weinberg, College treasurer, and her staff for keeping the College within its budget.

To control fuel costs, the College is looking into a fuel fund that will lock in prices for an eight- to 12-month span. The locked-in prices will make the College less vulnerable to fluctuations in fuel costs, Stacy Holland, board chair, said.

Holland announced that the board has complied with Executive Order 65, which requires board members to disclose potential conflicts of interest and resign if not granted a waiver by the State.

The meeting marked the first that Susanne Svizeny, vice chair, has not participated in since the State’s initial decision that her employment with Wachovia Bank was a conflict with the College. However, Gitenstein said that the State granted Svizeny’s waiver following appeal.

Holland said that the board sought guidance on how to respond to Executive Order 1, issued by Gov. Jon S. Corzine. It requires board members to file financial disclosure forms. Holland said the board wanted the State to reassess how it uses the disclosure statements.

“We must make sure we respect people’s privacy,” Holland said.

But Gitenstein emphasized that the board supported efforts for more transparency in state government.

“There is no resistance to revealing what needs to be revealed to ensure compliance,” she said.

The board also approved a series of personnel actions.

It approved the hire of two college alumni, Christina Puglia and Matthew Miller. Puglia, former Student Government Association executive president, was hired as a professional services specialist in the office of Admissions. Miller will work as a program assistant in the office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

It also appointed Alexander Skolnick as a full-time temporary assistant professor of psychology and accepted the resignation of Victor Kosmopoulos, assistant professor of engineering. It also approved the retirement of Linda Lengyel, professor of criminology and justice studies.