Fall 2009 | Gateway to Learning
Financial year Q & A
President Tom Kunkel speaks to the questions on everyone’s mind since the economy took a downturn last fall
What has the tough economy meant to the college’s financial health?
St. Norbert College has been well and conservatively run for many years, and that discipline has helped us navigate a down economy. While other schools were retrenching, we have been able to continue the momentum with fine new buildings, programs and academic partnerships with such institutions as Marquette University and Michigan Tech.
After the economic downturn of last fall, we made sure that, first of all, our students were well served, our staff and faculty remained intact and our academic program remained solid. We did have to hold pay raises for one year.
We were especially pleased that despite the economy, donations this year increased significantly. Those gifts were not all large in dollar amount. But they were large in number, which is considered an important quality indicator for an institution. As a tuition-dependent college, it is imperative that our annual fund secures the resources to help our students succeed.
What impact has the economy had on the college’s endowment?
At the height of the stock market, in the fall of 2007, our endowment hit its peak at $75 million. As was true for all colleges and universities, the downturn took a big bite out of our endowment. It hit $46 million at its low point. With the recent recovery in the equity markets, the endowment now stands around $57 million.
There’s one irony to note: Because we were never in position to become overly reliant on endowment spending, as some better-heeled institutions were, our budget was less jarred by the hard times when they hit.
Was enrollment affected?
We went into the 2008-09 year with strong enrollment. When the downturn hit last fall, we made a concerted effort to let our students know that, if their families were in financial straits, we wanted them to talk to us rather than quietly opt to leave. Dozens of them did seek us out to work through their financial challenges so that they could stay. We also redoubled our recruiting efforts for the current year and made available more financial aid than ever.
This combination of retention and recruiting efforts has paid off in this fall’s record enrollment. And there was a sizeable increase in top academic scholars among our first-year students.
However, we have also seen a 7 percent increase in those students demonstrating serious financial need. Even now we have students come to us whose parents have lost their jobs. So we continue to be diligent in our outreach.
How does this position us for the future?
We must continue to be good stewards of our resources. We are constantly working to improve the educational experience even as we hold tuition increases to a minimum. Our aim is to make sure that no qualified student rules out St. Norbert for fear of cost.
To do all this, we look to the ongoing support of alumni and friends – for which we are, as ever, more grateful than we can say.
Look here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).
A gallery of images from the college's biggest-ever open house.
Miss Welnick at 103
The college’s oldest alum looks back on more than a century of memories.
Hildegard of Bingen
A Center for Norbertine Studies symposium cast new light on the life of this influential medieval mystic.
Game for learning
Paul Waelchli (Library) teaches information literacy through fantasy football.
A legacy to celebrate
Meet three families whose ties to St. Norbert have endured across the generations.
Adventures in Manila
Laurie MacDiarmid (English) and her daughter chronicle their semester in the Philippines.
The “Twilight” phenomenon
Stephenie Meyers’ series is attracting scholarly attention from, among others, our own John Pennington (English).
Jenny Scherer ’10 has been taking her insider’s view of varsity track and field to a national audience.
The inside view
Gerry Diaz ’04 reports from his new job: covering the Green Bay Packers for CBSSports.com.
From start to finish
The Mulva Library, now open, takes shape before your eyes in this time-lapse sequence of images.
Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.
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