The state of the university: budget matters

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President Keefe addresses the University of Dallas community regarding financial questions as the academic year draws to an end.

As the school year and the fiscal year come to a close, I have been asked to update the campus community concerning our financial situation. We are enjoying growth in our enrollment and our endowment, and are financially better off than most small Catholic colleges and universities in this country.  That being said, there are always financial challenges for institutions of this size.  The university, like many other institutions, has suffered as a result of a declining national economy, which affected us in three significant ways:

– Some very worthy students who desperately want to attend the University of Dallas have not been able to do so because they do not have the financial ability and cannot obtain enough financial aid.

– In response to the national situation, the university has increased its financial aid to students to the point where, in the last couple of years, the student discount rate (the average percentage of student tuition discounted using scholarships, grants and loans) has approached nearly 60 percent for the incoming freshman classes.  Almost every student at UD is receiving some form of financial aid, and nearly every student would tell you it is not enough.

– Like every other institution and individual in the country, the university has been hit by rapidly rising utility bills and health care costs.

Another issue that continues to hold the university back is the lack of significant charitable support from alumni. In comparison with similar liberal arts schools, our participation rate and dollars raised from alumni are small.

The university has also been affected by the construction on Northgate Drive, Highways 114 and 183, Loop 12 and the DART station that has taken place over the last five years. Time and time again, students dropping out of the Graduate School of Management (GSM) have cited road construction and difficulties reaching campus as one of their main reasons for leaving. Particularly for students attending the weekend and evening classes in the GSM programs, convenience of access is paramount. GSM has been a significant source of revenue over the years, and we have seen that revenue drop precipitously in the last few years. We expect that with the completion of construction, we will see a reversal to this trend.

While this current year we will run a deficit and next year we will run a still smaller deficit, financial projections show us running a modest surplus the following year and every succeeding year.  Our projections are predicated upon continued modest growth in Constantin enrollment, revenue increases in GSM, and modest growth in revenue for Braniff Graduate School and the School of Ministry.

The surplus will allow us to address our two most important financial concerns:  equity for faculty salaries and deferred maintenance issues.

The university’s financial future is bright.  I have confidence that we will be able to continue the growth in undergraduate population to a level of approximately 1450 students for Constantin, up from our current 1370; to expand the Graduate School of Management to approximately 1300 students – and to maintain that number – up from the current headcount of approximately 900; and to fundraise from our alumni, parents and benefactors at a level reflective of the quality and importance of the institution.

 

Thank you for your interest,
Thomas W. Keefe, J.D.

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