Global Economic Crisis Impacts College

Brother President Ronald Gallagher

Along with all other higher education institutions, Saint Mary's has been responding to the plummeting stock market and mortgage meltdown by adjusting its budget to deal with losses in the College's endowment and downturns in projected tuition revenue.

The College's Budget Committee labored to develop a financial model that responded realistically to rapidly changing economic conditions and reflected institutional priorities spelled out by Brother President Ronald Gallagher enhancing academic excellence, maintaining affordability, increasing institutional efficiency, providing a high-quality student experience and keeping momentum in strategic planning and projects.

Even before it dealt with the 200910 budget, the Board of Trustees in October called for a temporary hiring freeze and a 2 percent cut in operating expenses.

In January, trustees responded to the economic strains on students and their families by adopting a 200910 financial plan that called for a 2 percent increase in the undergraduate tuition rate the lowest annual increase in more than four decades.

The budget anticipates a significant decline in operating revenue based on a projected 14 percent increase in student financial aid, a 15 percent decrease in new undergraduate student enrollment and a 30 percent decline in the value of the College's endowment.

The budget plan requires cost-cutting measures, including some cuts in adjunct faculty and staff positions, no annual salary increase for faculty and staff members, an 8 percent reduction in departments' operating budgets and cuts in contributions to employee retirement plans.

In announcing these difficult budget decisions to faculty and staff members, Brother Ronald expressed confidence that these steps would preserve the quality of the Saint Mary's experience for students and maintain momentum on key campus initiatives, such as facility improvements and enhancements to fundraising efforts. Brother Ronald said he remained "confident that our shared commitment to the mission of Saint Mary's and the students whose lives we change every day will point the way to a brighter future."