Message to Parents and Students

Dear Parents and Students of Saint Mary's College,

Greetings from Moraga. I am sharing with you a message which I communicated to our faculty and staff last week.

The Saint Mary's community is affected in multiple ways by the current economic situation. This has been an important topic in discussions last week in the Budget Committee, the Cabinet and the Board of Trustees, who met on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 9 and 10.

The volatility of the current global and local economy has presented new challenges to us all. We are certainly aware that the economy has put an enormous financial strain on our students and their families. Though we are in a stable position, keeping Saint Mary's College affordable has made great demands on our resources, and we as a community must look for ways to become more efficient and economical, while protecting the academic excellence of the institution and maintaining the positive momentum of many current projects and planning.

Following input from the Budget Committee and the Cabinet, the Board of Trustees last week engaged in discussions of the effects of the current economy and credit crisis. In order to prudently manage our resources at this time, the Board has directed me to take a number of steps. The first is to institute a hiring cap on employees, initially until the next Board meeting in January 2009. We are also directed to achieve economies in our current discretionary spending. The Board has also encouraged us to prepare financial scenarios to guide our budget process for the next 2-3 years. The Cabinet and Budget committee will be addressing these issues in the coming weeks and months, and I have asked the Cabinet to communicate regularly within their areas of responsibility and invite suggestions and ideas about how we can make savings.

Vice President Pete Michell has communicated information about our current budget realities and our planning for the next several years in his presentation to the College community on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Our priorities are dedicated to keeping Saint Mary's affordable for our students, insuring our academic excellence and keeping the momentum on important institutional planning and projects which are currently under way. You may have heard that in response to increased financial need among our students, we increased spending on institutional aid this year by over $3 million. Even so, we are not always able to help families as much as we would like. During these difficult times, our Financial Aid office stands ready to assist families who are facing unexpected financial challenges. Loans and other non-institutional resources remain available. So please, if you face difficulties, contact our Aid Office: (925) 631-4370.

We are committed to maintaining a quality experience for all Saint Mary's students. I invite and encourage all in our community to share in efforts to respond to challenges of the current economic climate.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC