President Mary Jane Thomsen rang the bell to signal the start of our meeting and then led the pledge of allegiance Jack Windish then offered the invocation, a favorite prayer of his that focused on Rotary as integral part of our lives for which we are thankful. Next, in sterling voice, Beth Russell had all of us singing appropriate Halloween-season song, “Dem Bones.”
Ric Tinucci informed us about Polio Plus (World Polio Day was October 24th), recapping the progress of this worldwide effort which grew out of an initial 5-year polio vaccination drive begun in 1979 by Rotary to immunize 6 million children there. A video clip highlighted the day in 2014 when India was declared polio-free. So far in 2015 just 51 cases of polio have been reported across the globe. Following the presentation, we all stood to have a panoramic picture taken of us showing with our fingers just how close we are to eradicating polio. Rick passed the basket for gifts by cash or credit card.
The October 28 prospective member breakfast included 15 prospective members. The correct date of assisting the Boy Scouts in St. Louis with its annual Scouting for Food collection effort is Saturday, November 21.
Vic Difate made the required official announcement about upcoming elections. Nominations are due by next Thursday, November 5th. Needed are nominees for President-elect, Vice President, Treasurer, and four members of the Board of Directors. If you wish to serve or wish to nominate someone, now is the time to act!
New member Kristen Stanley was introduced via a Q&A with President Mary Jane asking the Qs. Kris hails from Canada where she was in Rotary, (she had been in Rotaract). She loves winter sports. Welcome, Kristin!
Ric Tinucci had the honor of awarding the Paul Harris Fellow medallion and certificate to Doug Russell, made possible by a gift to Rotary International Foundation by his wife Beth Russell.
Beth Russell then introduced our speaker, J. Michael Pressimone, President of Fontbonne University since July 2014. He provided a brief history of Fontbonne from its founding by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1923.
Fontbonne was a women’s college until becoming co-ed in the 1970s. Today it has 1800 students of whom 280 live on campus; most are commuting students who live here; most alumni stay and work in the region. Fourteen per cent (14%) of students come from 33 countries.
The University faces these challenges:
- Changing market.
- Debt/Cost for students.
- Title IX compliance; the attention all Universities must place on seeking to assure a culture and climate where no Sexual Assaults occur.
- Aging infrastructure
Opportunities for Fontbonne
- It is a “best kept secret jewel.” Our speaker wants the secret to be shared widely so it’s no secret anymore
- Low cost
- Commitment to St. Louis
- Emerging programs in existing disciplines (cybersecurity and bioinformatics, for example)
Today Fontbonne is focused on building its core educational program and increasing its student body to 1900-2000 students while also addressing its challenges.
President Mary Jane closed the meeting a few minutes after 1 p.m.