I promised to communicate to faculty and staff regularly. I suspect that “regularly” might feel more like “intermittently,” as I went a few weeks without sending a campus update before now sending one in back-to-back weeks. Not surprisingly, the frequency of Work In Progress is determined partially by the calendar, partially by the nature of my work at any point in time, and partially by whether there is anything I think the campus community might find interesting. In this case, I wanted to share some quick updates on a couple of topics of interest to faculty and staff in advance of next week’s Fall Break.
Financial Outlook for 2015-16
As I foreshadowed last week, the Finance, Audit, and Investment Committee met earlier this week to review proposed budget adjustments in light of this fall’s revenue shortfall. During its deliberations last spring, the Planning & Budget Committee identified contingencies that we would consider if we found ourselves with a budget shortfall; that set of contingencies constituted the majority of the recommendations brought forward. I would like to highlight a few key points from the budget revisions the FA&I Committee approved:
- The salary pool for 2015-16 will be 2%. As has been the case in recent years, that means that the typical raise will be slightly lower (I would anticipate around 1.5%), as some of that pool will go to addressing promotions, compression, and areas where individual compensation is below the normal range for the position. The effective date of compensation adjustments will be October 1, 2015. Salary adjustments will be communicated via written letters from division Vice Presidents.
- Larger than expected savings have been realized from course reductions—partially because of lower enrollment, and partially because of a concerted effort to improve course management. Extending this effort will be important in responding to anticipated lower enrollments over the next couple of years.
- The proposed budget included $25,000 in operating budget increases beginning in 2015-16. We will not be executing at this time because I don’t believe it is responsible to add additional discretionary expenditures to the 2016-17 operating budget at this time.
These changes respond responsibly to our lower-than-expected net revenue without having a negative impact on teaching and learning. In addition, they create additional reserve against any potential downside that might remain for spring and advance our work to reconcile the 2016-17 operating budget. While ultimately I am responsible for recommendations to the Board of Trustees and its committees, those recommendations are strongly influenced by the thinking of our Planning & Budget Committee as well as my Cabinet and President’s Council.
I remain grateful for their candor and thoughtful engagement on behalf of the College. Those groups will now turn their attention more fully to developing our institutional strategy, which will inform both the budget process for 2016-17 and, more importantly, establishing our priorities and direction for the future.
McAllister and Quinn
You have doubtless heard or read my statements that we need to generate more substantial revenue streams beyond student tuition. As one of first tangible steps in that direction, we’ve engaged McAllister and Quinn, a consulting firm that specializes in helping colleges and universities successfully compete for federal grants. In fact, with the leadership of Rachel Lancor, Amy Schiebel, Karen Thomas, Mogi Roulet and Darla Peterson we have already submitted a proposal for Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM). I am grateful for their leadership and fine work.
John McAllister and his colleague A.J. Jensen were on campus earlier this week, meeting with a variety of faculty and staff to learn more about Edgewood College. Based on those meetings, John and A.J. will identify possible grants for which Edgewood College appears to be well-suited. While there are no guarantees of success for any one grant proposal, we are confident that a number of our strengths and initiatives align with federal funding priorities. We will be submitting one grant per quarter.
Access, Affordability, and Student Success
Those of you who follow me on twitter (shameless plug--@sflanaganec) may have seen a link from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story last week that described how independent colleges in Wisconsin outperform our public counterparts in graduating students who receive Pell grants. While Edgewood College was not listed specifically, the story linked to a report from the Education Trust which shows our success in that important measure of student access and success. In 2013, the latest year for which there is comprehensive data, the six year graduation rate of Pell recipients at Edgewood College is actually 3 percentage points higher than non-recipients.
This illustrates that our tuition and aid approaches have on the whole allowed students to persist and succeed. In addition, these data show the substantial progress in graduation rates at Edgewood College over the past decade—and we expect to see six-year graduation rates over 60% in the near future. All of this constitutes great reinforcement about the quality of the learning experience at Edgewood College and our ability to serve students across the socioeconomic spectrum!
Honor and invitation
Edgewood College, along with the CUNA Mutual Foundation, will be recognized by Courage to Teach at that organization’s 13th annual fundraiser and celebration. Both organizations will be receiving the Center for Courage and Renewal Medallions of Integrity in recognition of our long-standing partnership with Courage to Teach.
Courage to Teach has offered a reduced rate of $20 to faculty and staff who would like to attend the celebration, which will be held on Sunday, November 1 from 2p -4p in Anderson Auditorium. In addition to awards and reception, noted author and educator Parker Palmer will be speaking as well. Rebecca Zambrano will place invitations with rsvp cards in faculty and staff mailboxes. Please contact Rebecca for more detail or to purchase tickets before October 21.
Once again, our nation is faced with breaking news of a shooting on a campus—this time a community college in Oregon earlier today where at least seven people (from the latest report I have seen) were reportedly killed. First, please join me in holding all of those affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers. In addition, please take a moment to review information covering emergency preparedness, found on the Safety & Security page on our Edgewood site. The College has also produced a video outlining steps you should take in the event of an armed intruder situation.
I would encourage you to review the Edgewood College armed intruder protocol once again. While the chances of such an incident on our campus are remote, I suspect that all of the campuses that have experienced events like this felt the same way. Please also keep your eyes open for a lunch session in October where that protocol will be reviewed in greater detail.
It is amazing to think that we’ve already reached one of the key milestones on the academic calendar! I recognize that calling those two days a “break” is a misnomer, except that they do constitute a couple of days without classes…Offices are open for business as usual, and I know that many faculty utilize these days in some combination of follow-up to the first few weeks of class and preparation for the rest of the semester. That said, I hope each of you enjoys the change of pace these couple of days bring—if not the change of season that appears to be arriving at about the same time. Next stop, Thanksgiving…