Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,
Our Board of Trustees held its annual January meeting at the end of last week and, as is typical, the primary topic was the review, discussion and approval of budget assumptions for the upcoming fiscal year. Gratefully, their discussions this year were not made more difficult by historic declines in financial markets or unexpected cuts to the Cal Grant program, as has been the case in recent times. I am particularly pleased that, while continuing to deal with a slow economic recovery, some threats to federal and state funding for students and economic volatility, the budget plan for 2013-2014 adopted by the board takes concrete steps to keep an SMC education affordable for students and their families.
Another major topic for the board was consideration of a revised plan for our much-needed Library and Learning Commons. The board’s educational session provided an opportunity for Provost Beth Dobkin to thoroughly brief the board on the educational, competitive and logistical factors that had been considered in developing the current plan. How appropriate that in our sesquicentennial year the board enthusiastically reaffirmed the primary importance of constructing this new facility and endorsed a plan that will place the library along the Chapel green, in accordance with founding architect John J. Donovan and Brother Joseph Fenlon’s original vision.
The 2013-2014 budget assumptions adopted by the board include the following:
1. Stable undergraduate enrollment of 2,859, including 775 (600 first year and 175 transfer) new undergraduate students. This enrollment goal reflects capacity limitations, helps maintain the academic profile of the entering class and provides a buffer as competitive factors in the public sector shift.
2. An undergraduate tuition rate increase of 3.75 % (lower than the recent national and competitor’s average), and a 2.5% room and 3.5% board rate increase.
3. A 6.7% ($2,438,000) increase in non-athletic institutional financial aid to help keep the College affordable for students and their families and to offer financial aid packages that are competitive with those offered by other institutions. This increase also includes some funding to address last year’s legislated decrease in the maximum Cal Grant from $9,708 to $9,084 in 2013-2014.
4. A 13.6% ($846,000) increase in net income from graduate and professional programs, reflecting continued revenue growth in most programs.
5. A 5.1% overall increase in the faculty salary pool to reflect the second-year implementation cost of the new faculty salary policy and scheduled step and promotional increases, including a 2.0% increase in base salary steps to strive to remain competitive with peer institutions.
6. A 2.9% overall increase in the staff salary pool to reflect a 2.0% increase in base salaries to strive to remain competitive with peer institutions, expected promotions, other salary adjustments, and several new staff positions, primarily in graduate and professional programs.
7. Allocations totaling $1,371,000 for strategic initiatives comprised of increased library support ($87,000), increased support for technology ($300,000), and ongoing ($492,000) and onetime ($492,000) initiatives that will advance the College’s strategic plans and objectives.
8. The board also directed the College to place any excess revenue at year end into a reserve for facility renewal and repair and/or to address unexpected cuts to state or federal funding for students.
I remain grateful to our College Budget Committee, whose hard work and collaborative spirit model our institutional values. And I continue to be thankful for our talented and committed staff and faculty members, whose ongoing dedication to our shared mission of education have been and will continue to be our greatest resource.
Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC