Between the scarcity of leaves on trees, the declining temperatures, and the rapidly shortening daylight hours, it is clear that autumn is upon us…to be followed shortly by that other season that promises to follow autumn. On one hand, that means that we’ve settled into the routine of the academic year. On the other, we are rapidly heading toward one of the busiest times of year—the end of the first semester and the holiday season.
A special note for our students, faculty, staff, family members and friends who have served this country - thank you for your service, and thank you for being a part of the rich fabric of our community and our lives. We are proud to count so many veterans among the members of our community, and I’m thrilled to share that Edgewood College was the only private college in Wisconsin named to the Best for Vets 2016 list compiled by Military Times.
Operating Budget for 2016-17 and beyond
As I mentioned at College Assembly, we’ve begun a three-track process to reconcile our operating budget for the next three years (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19): revenue generation, expense reduction, and assumption review. (I won’t repeat here all the background I shared at that meeting; my remarks can be found online.) Projected declines in enrollment result in reduced revenue, meaning that we will need to look deeply at all three of these tracks. We hope, of course, to increase enrollment and to generate additional resources from philanthropy; in the short term we need to develop budget models that are solid should our efforts not yield immediate results.
I have asked two groups—each group representing a blend of the Planning & Budget Committee and the Cabinet—to begin identifying options for revenue increases and expense reductions, respectively. We will first seek to identify ideas that can contribute to reconciling the 2016-17 budget. Ideas that may take longer to explore and/or implement will be pursued in greater detail this spring. The third track regards our operating assumptions—enrollment, assumed rate of expense increases in drivers that cross departmental lines (utilities, technology), etc. These too will be revisited, especially as we get into the early part of 2016 when projections can be based on more sound data than is currently available.
In the next few weeks, you can contribute in a couple of ways:
- First, academic and administrative leaders (directors, chairs, deans, vice presidents, etc.) will be engaging their areas in generating ideas—please offer your suggestions about when they do so.
- In addition, the subcommittees I referenced above will be reviewing ideas from across campus. If you have a suggestion for revenue increase or expense reduction, perhaps outside your department or across campus, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll take good ideas at any time. That said, each of the work groups will begin discussions this week; ideas forwarded by Wednesday, November 18 will be discussed at an initial subgroup meeting.
I’m pleased to announce that I have completed appointments to the Strategy Steering Committee. This group will be advisory to me, and will coordinate engaging campus in the process of articulating our institutional strategy moving forward (as a reminder, I shared some preliminary thinking around strategy earlier this semester). I appreciate those of you who took time to nominate one or more candidates for service.
Strategy Steering Committee Members:
- Tony Chambers, VP for Student Development/Dean of Students
- EJ Keely, Director of Institutional Assessment & Research; adjunct instructor
- Nikki Kime, Professor, Biological Sciences, Biological Sciences Department
- John Leonard, Chairperson in Religious Studies, Professor Religious Studies
- Kris Mickelson, Dean of the School of Integrative Studies
- Sara Jimenez-Soffa, Assistant Professor, Director of Research in the Ed.D. Program, School of Education
- Katie Vesperman, Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Our Board of Trustees will at its November 19 meeting begin to engage around the topic of strategy. I have invited Dr. Robert (Bob) Sevier of Statmats (a higher education marketing and strategy firm) to conduct an educational session for the Board before its meeting. In addition, we will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on Thursday, November 19. You will receive an Outlook invitation to this event. Please rsvp to assure an accurate lunch count. If your schedule permits, please plan to attend to learn more from Dr. Sevier about the trends affecting higher education and, in particular, colleges like Edgewood College. You will, of course, have opportunities to participate in the process of strategy development during Spring semester.
As you are aware, the College has changed its standard health care plan design to a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), supported by Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to which the College will contribute for participants. November 16 and December 4 mark the start and end date, respectively, for the College’s Open Enrollment period. Please pay special attention for opportunities to learn more about how to prepare for health care choices under an HDHP/HSA plan design (if you prefer that plan design to the current).
I do want to draw everyone’s attention to one critical detail: If you want to move from the current standard plan to the HDHP/HSA plan, you will need to make that change during the Open Enrollment period. If you do not change your plan during the Open Enrollment period, you will continue on the plan in which you are currently enrolled.
Human Resources will continue to communicate throughout the Open Enrollment period, both about the mechanics of this year’s process and to offer assistance with any questions you may have. I am grateful for their work to make sure the transition many of us will experience goes as smoothly as possible.
I’m glad that we’re taking time to shine a light on some of our good news at College Assembly. A few highlights in addition to those we discussed on Monday:
- Melanie Herzog, Professor of Art History, has been invited to deliver the keynote lecture at the Asians in the Americas Symposium, held at LaSalle University this month.
- Edgewood College has been recognized for the “Highest Average Annual Energy Savings from a Single Project” by the national 2015 Best of GRITS (Green Revolving Investment Tracking System), part of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge in which the College participates. By replacing 20-year old equipment with more efficient alternatives in Sonderegger (the campus building with highest energy utilization), we realized substantial energy and financial savings. Thanks to the Campus Sustainability Coordinating Team and our Facilities staff who work daily to make sure that we are effective stewards of natural resources!
- While we are investing greater resources to increase advancement as a source of revenue in the future, we have some current successes to celebrate. I’ll share just one at this point. The combination of the 2015 Predolin Foundation grant (toward the classroom that is part of the residence hall project) and a gift from the estate of Margaret Winston (who contributed toward the construction of Dominican Hall) has brought us to our fundraising goal of $3.4 million for the residence hall project! This is a tremendous accomplishment, and one that many of you—along with the folks in Institutional Advancement—have made possible through your efforts, passion, and financial support.
One last note
It is strange to type this upon arriving back to my office after a nice walk from Washburn in mid-50 degree temps, but November 9-13 marks Winter Awareness Week. For those of us who rely on our cars to help us get around in the winter, please be sure to prepare accordingly. And please make sure your information is current for Eagle Alerts, the College’s notification system for emergencies—including weather-related adjustments to the College’s class schedule or hours of operation.