At today’s University of South Alabama Board of Trustees meeting, topics of discussion ranged from financial statements to the Jaguar football team’s much anticipated appearance at the Camellia Bowl.
According to financial reports, the university’s current endowment is at $141.9 million, ultimately outperforming their benchmark by 2.12 percent.
“[It’s] really quite impressive,” said Trustee James Yance, chairman of the board’s development, endowment and investments committee.
According to officials, the university’s total assets are now at $1.05 billion compared to $1.04 billion in 2013 and a little over $983 million in 2012. Furthermore, the evaluation of USA’s endowments and investments yielded no recommendations for changes to the university’s current investment policies, so the board approved for all current policies to remain the same.
Vice Chairman Kenneth Simon said the evaluation was “peppered with questions” to ensure the policies were of “sound strategy” to successfully maintain capital needs. Additionally, the university ranked in the top 10 percent of all universities and colleges in investment performance, officials said.
During a report on financial audits, audit committee Chairman John Peek said no audit reports required any actions and no material weaknesses were found.
“[It’s] something we should be very proud of,” he said.
According to Trustee James Shumock, who filled in for the absent budget and finance committee chair Tom Corcoran, the university’s general fund performed as expected though university hospitals experienced a net decrease as a result of Medicare reimbursements.
“USA Medical Center and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital did not meet any meaningful use objectives for Medicare during 2014, and therefore have not recognized any revenue for this fiscal year,” the report read.
Further, Shumock said hospital management is successfully handling the issue and it “has been rectified going into the New Year.”
The board also noted a significant drop in annual crime rates on campus. According to Executive Vice President John Smith, 25 major offenses were reported in 2013 compared to 38 in 2012, 54 in 2011 and 79 in 2010.
“[We’re] very, very pleased with these numbers,” he said.
In other business, Mayor Sandy Stimpson, who serves as an honorary trustee, spoke about his recent trip with Airbus delegates to Toulouse, France and Munich, Germany, in October. The goal of the trip was to ensure that Airbus understands the university’s desire to collaborate, Stimpson said. He added that the university’s research on carbon fiber composites, a material he said makes up 51 percent of certain Airbus models, could be a major opportunity and “huge step” for the school.
“I feel like there is a very bright future between the university and Airbus,” Stimpson said.
The board also approved to refinance an $8 million loan for the USA Research and Technology Park, which will include construction of a new facility near the Mitchell Cancer Institute and USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital on Springhill Avenue in midtown.
According to Dr. Ronald Franks, vice president for health sciences, the new 133,000-square-foot physician’s office building will cost around $36 million and include 15 clinics to enable 150,000 annual patient visits.
The board also announced a gift of $1 million made by the J. L. Bedsole Foundation to the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative. According to Joseph Busta, the university’s vice president for development and alumni relations, the amount is the “largest gift to date.”
For academic and student affairs, the board announced a complete renovation of the campus post office, which will allow for email notifications for students, FedEx and UPS shipment options and a work area to prepare classroom assignments.
Additionally, the board announced the establishment of a first-year advising center, aimed to serve the needs of the first-year student. In the fall of 2015, each incoming freshman will be assigned to an advisor for their first 30 hours of study before being assigned to an advisor in their particular field of study.
The board also recognized head football coach Joey Jones as the Jaguars prepare for the Camellia Bowl Dec. 20 in Montgomery.
“We want to represent USA in a great way,” he said. “[We’re] very fortunate.”
Board members noted the program’s success and impressive rate in which they qualified for a coveted bowl game.
“Nobody has ever gotten to a bowl game this quickly,” athletic director Joel Erdmann said.
Erdmann said there are currently 40,000 alumni within a 200-mile radius surrounding Montgomery and encouraged all who are able to attend the monumental game.
“Wear something red,” he said. “And be very loud.”