Budget & Enrollment
As we all know well, this past year was our most challenging since the economic downturn of 2008. Our audited financial results will be finalized in late summer, but all indications are that we will meet our financial goals despite significant revenue shortfalls in key areas. Cost savings from the hiring freeze were the most critical factor in our success. Also important were other cost reductions and successful efforts from the academic and university life areas to improve retention between the fall and spring semesters. Given the financial challenges facing most private universities, this is an especially important shared accomplishment.
The 2013-2014 budget assumes an even more modest increase than customary in tuition and fees and, unlike in recent years, only a slight 1% growth in undergraduate enrollment. As of July 1, overall new student enrollment was running behind goal but overall undergraduate enrollment is projected to meet goal, due to promising mid-summer retention reports.
Challenges with enrollment in the School of Graduate and Adult Education remain, so the net revenue budget goal for '13-'14 has been set conservatively. High market demand for some programs and expansion of new or existing offerings provide potential opportunities, and there are some initial positive signs. New partnerships — such as with Montgomery County Community College-Pottstown — could help offset enrollment declines elsewhere.
Unlike a year ago at this time, it appears that the overall Fall budget revenue goal will be met so that the preliminary board-approved budget (including ongoing budget holdbacks and reductions) can be implemented with few, if any, changes. As announced earlier, while a hiring freeze is not needed at present, all open positions will continue to be reviewed and, in some cases, reallocated to support areas of growth or higher priority need. Some positions remain open, but a number of others have been filled, a few new faculty positions have been funded from new or reallocated resources, and employee health benefits have been preserved with all increased costs once again funded by the university’s budget.
The Educational Planning Center (EPC)
Opening in August will be the new Educational Planning Center (EPC), a collaborative venture of Academic Affairs and University Life, directed by Interim Associate Dean Danielle Saad, and the EPC's Assistant Director, Lee Ann Bieber, and jointly overseen by Provost Williams and Vice President Cicala. The EPC will be the hub for student advising and the central resource center for experiential learning opportunities, major and career exploration, academic support services, and the first-year experience. The EPC’s main office will be located off the lobby of Bernardine Hall, with the team of administrators, faculty, staff, and students located in the former Center for Student Success offices on the adjoining first floor. Look for detailed information from Shirley and Joe later this month on this important endeavor.