End of Year Letter to Community

Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,

As we approach commencement ceremonies for both undergraduate and graduate programs this coming weekend, I would like to thank the entire community for their efforts during the past academic year. In a world characterized by economic uncertainty and polarization on a variety of issues, you have done a remarkable job of keeping our community focused on the principles set forth in our mission. As we continue to have a crowded agenda of meetings, exams, presentations and celebrations, I would like you all to be cognizant of the very hard work behind the scenes by our maintenance, kitchen, and cleaning staffs. Often, these people put in extended hours to make sure the College runs smoothly and efficiently during these days. Please offer these workers your thanks when you encounter them in the next week or so.

Last week's report on new undergraduate student enrollment indicators by Vice President Beseda was very encouraging. Thank you to the many members of our campus community who contributed to these optimistic results. These totals provide valuable evidence that strategic efforts to enhance our undergraduate recruitment and aid programs are achieving their aims. They also suggest that the problems faced by our colleagues in the public sector of higher education in our state are leading many students to more seriously consider the quality of our academic programs.

It now appears likely that net new undergraduate student tuition revenue will significantly exceed budget targets. At the same time, many factors that will impact total net undergraduate tuition revenue, such as returning student retention, new and returning student financial aid and Cal Grant budget allocations, are yet to be determined. In addition, graduate program enrollment and expenses, annual gifts and endowment earning for fiscal 2010-2011 will all have an important impact on next year's revenue budget. These factors will not become clear until fall 2010 at the earliest. It would be premature and imprudent to assume that encouraging new undergraduate student enrollment indicators have completely revised our financial realities. One lesson I trust we have all learned in the past several years is that our economic environment is challenging and dynamic. Recent turbulence in the stock market, international debt financing challenges and the State's announcement of a larger than expected deficit have made it abundantly clear that if the new normal exists, it is yet to be static and unambiguous.

I will continue to ask the Budget Committee and Cabinet to consider multiple financial scenarios for 2010-2011 including the best use of possible excess revenue. I will also ask them to consider priorities for the restoration of expenditures that were reduced in response to budget exigencies including employer pension (TIAA-CREF) contribution levels, if and when these options become possible.

Please feel free to contact the Budget Committee at budget.committee@stmarys-ca.edu if you would like to provide them with advice about priorities for the use of excess budget revenues that may be realized in the year ahead.

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of the students of Saint Mary's.

Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC