Budget Challenges Continue; January Term Going Well

Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,

As we continue in a new calendar year, I would like to keep you informed on a number of issues and items of interest to the College.

In preparation for the meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 21 and 22, a number of College and board committees have been meeting during the past several weeks. The College Budget Committee has passed on to me their recommendations concerning the budget assumptions for the coming fiscal year. I am thankful to the Budget Committee for its prudent and sober recommendations in this challenging economic time. Members have taken into account the important priorities of maintaining academic excellence and a quality experience for all at the College, as well as increasing our efficiency and maintaining our momentum in continuing strategic initiatives. I look forward to discussing with the Board of Trustees the changing environment of private higher education and the assumptions that are driving our economic and strategic planning and next year's budget.

My own observations of campus activity this January point to a very engaged community in Jan Term classes and activities, adult and graduate programs, and successful and exciting intercollegiate and club sports programs. I had the opportunity to meet the new U.S. Ambassador to Australia last week, Mr. John Bleich, when he paid a visit to campus. He spent some time in cordial conversation with our student athletes from Australia. And thanks to a new WCC League agreement with ESPN, our fans in Australia will be able to watch tonight's nationally televised basketball game with Gonzaga!

An important open house for undergraduate students will take place on Sunday, January 24. As one of our distinctive institutional strengths is the quality of personal relations with our students, I encourage faculty and staff to come and meet our prospective students at this event. Given the competitive market for students at this time, we need to make a strong effort to both attract and retain students. On a positive note, VP Michael Beseda reports that our spring application numbers from transfer students are higher than in past years. Also, initial reports from fall student performance indicate that the percentage number of students on academic probation is less than in previous years. I would like to attribute this improvement to quality instruction, effective student advising, and appropriate support services. Thanks for your collective efforts.

The next Saint Mary's Magazine contains a feature article about alumna Maria Elena Durazo, '75, who has accepted our invitation to deliver the Commencement Address for the undergraduate class of 2010. She has served as executive secretary-treasurer for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor since 2006. The federation represents 350 local unions and has more than 800,000 workers in key industries. In 2004, the College's John F. Henning Institute honored her for her service to the dignity of work and workers. You can read more about her distinguished career in the upcoming magazine.

I know many of us are concerned about the current disastrous outcomes in Haiti following the earthquake this week. We are currently searching for information on the status of one of the Christian Brothers Centers for Higher Education in Port de Prince. I will pass on information as it becomes available.

My thanks to you all in your continuing efforts to support and achieve our mission.

In St. La Salle,

Brother Ronald Gallagher