President's Newsletter March 2016

Important Updates
 

March 18-19 Board of Trustees Meeting  

The Board of Trustees concluded its spring meeting having focused on three thematic elements: Alvernia’s “Student Success Plan”; the University’s mission-centered focus on civic engagement and service; and review and approval of plans for The Plex.

Residence life plans were also reviewed and discussed. There was further good discussion around development of messages to help others spread the word about Alvernia so as to build our brand in a ways that are consistent and compelling.

Staff members from Alvernia’s two centers of excellence, the Holleran Center and O’Pake Institute, were special guests at lunch. Both organizations have had a dramatic impact on the university’s progress under the leadership of Jay Worrall (Holleran Center) and Dave Myers (O’Pake Institute).

The Board’s dinner guests were our 2015 SURFs and their faculty mentors, coordinated by Ana Ruiz. Trustees enjoyed the informal poster session during a pre-dinner reception.


2015-2016 Budget & Enrollment

As we move toward the end of the academic year, the budget outlook is cautiously optimistic. Last fall’s FTUG positive enrollment news has continued, and the forecast for spring remains encouraging. We are currently well ahead of the second semester undergraduate enrollment goal, thanks to strong freshman and upper class retention that has exceeded our goals. However, we again have missed our transfer student goal and greatly exceeded the planned discount rate for the period (based on the amount of aid we provide to students). So that has offset the positive revenue impact from the good enrollment news.

The School of Graduate and Adult Education revenues are tracking about 5 percent behind budget, despite a strong winter term that helped offset shortfalls from the fall semester. Overall, declines in adult undergraduate enrollment are causing much of the shortfall. Graduate program enrollments are also modestly behind goal. A key challenge has been attracting new interest in our programs and dealing with the increasing number of adult learners who are unable to progress due to financial issues.

On the positive side, enrollment in online programs has grown significantly and is above plan for the period but on a much smaller revenue base. Non-degree programs offered through corporate partnerships have also seen strong progress this semester. They hold great future promise.

With all this in mind, revenues are tracking positively overall and we are in line to meet 2015-2016 budget goals, providing institutional spending remains within budget. Vice presidents will meet with all budget managers in the next two weeks to ensure this positive result.


2016-2017 Budget & Enrollment

Because of the ongoing trends in enrollment and health care cost containment, and ever-changing market dynamics, next year’s budget naturally must be conservative to manage this uncertainty.

Enrollment in the School of Graduate and Adult Education continues to be unpredictable, but there is strong interest in the DPT and MSOT programs, growing enrollment in online programs, and expansion of our non-credit offerings.

Meanwhile, applications and accepted student numbers for 2016-2017 full-time undergraduates are well above last year’s numbers, supported by admissions staff efforts to strengthen our numbers in these areas. The number of confirmations is lower than last year at this time, an anticipated result of our strategy to limit and lower the number of acceptances in the occupational therapy program. (Recall that our well-regarded OT program was oversubscribed this past year (with a 50% + matriculation rate) at a level that is unsustainable.

As reported at our January divisional meetings, an increase in financial aid is planned in the budget that will raise our discount rate but also support expected enrollment growth. Employees’ health insurance costs are projected once again to increase substantially due to the overall health care environment and our own employee claims.

As always, specific information related to employee health care costs will be shared once available, likely in early May. The working budget model includes both a salary increase and the annual additional allocation by the university toward the health insurance increase. As before, final compensation decisions by the Board will be made in early fall, when enrollment becomes more certain.


> Continue to the FACULTY EXCELLENCE section




president's newsletter march 2016

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