Dean of the College Richard Feldman and Peter Lennie, Robert L. ‘ Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of arts, sciences and engineering, spoke about the effect of the current economic recession on the University and UR’s commitment to maintaining financial aid as a priority when they addressed the Students’ Association Senate during their meeting on Monday night.
‘We have to do more with less, so we are just going to have to be smart about how we spend our money,” Lennie said.
The University plans on slowing growth instead of stopping it all together by cutting costs on current programs and abandoning new ones, Feldman and Lennie said.
UR would potentially have to hold off on certain capital projects to reduce expenditures. For example, it is now unlikely that renovations on Towers, which planned to go forward in the summer of 2010, and the Pit, which is due to be revamped this summer, will be able to be executed as planned.
The University’s plans to expand the size of the student body will also be postponed. Despite growth these past three years in the number of students admitted, the University decided to keep its size.
Feldman explained that a major reason for not increasing the size of the class is that, while no hiring freezes will occur, UR will be hiring less faculty in the coming year. This means that, in order to preserve the University’s low faculty-to-student ratio, UR must accept fewer students.
‘The size of the student body is something that our students love, but not only that, they find the sense of community and boundless opportunities very accommodating,” Feldman said, going on to explain that they did not want to threaten those characteristics that fostered by the University’s intimate setting.
This past year, UR had a $250 million budget, according to Feldman about $176 million comes from undergraduate tuition costs, $40 million comes from the endowment, $26 million from grants and $7 million from miscellaneous resources. Due to the recent recession, the University is preparing for a decrease in private gifts, although administrators remain unsure of its overall effect on the budget.
Additionally, the value of UR’s endowment has diminished roughly 20 percent over the last six months.
‘The amount that was lost, while it may seem like a large percentage, is actually much lower than the loss that other universities have had to deal with,” Feldman said.
Still, the significant decrease poses the problem of how the University will adapt to that reduction of funds.
Currently, $77 million of the budget is spent on providing financial aid for students and $86 million is spent on instruction, such as professor’s salaries and classroom resources.
The remaining amount is distributed amongst utilities, student services, libraries and administrative services, as well as public affairs and communications. Both deans reiterated several times throughout the meeting that financial aid has been and always will remain a top priority for UR, while academic program development is second on the University’s list. Provisions will be made to provide financial aid for low-income families.
In terms of student’s tuition, Lennie explained that UR has experienced, on average, a five percent annual increase in the past, but that, this year, the tuition increase will be below that average.
The exact number is currently unavailable.
In the past, the money accrued from tuition increases went primarily into faculty and program expansion.
As a result of a smaller increase, Lennie explained that the rate of growth of those factions would decline.
The two deans fielded questions from both senators and other students attending the meeting. At one point, Feldman was asked about the alleged 100 students that left UR after last semester because they could no longer afford to attend the institution.
‘That statement is absolutely untrue,” Feldman said. ‘Spring registration is always lower than fall registration because of students finishing up their ninth semester or because students decide to go abroad.”
Senators and students alike who attended the presentation were impressed not only with the content of the discussion, but also with the deans’ willingness to be open with students about this information.
‘The fact that [Feldman and Lennie] came shows that they are committed to helping the students,” Speaker of the Senate and senior Harrell Kirstein said. ‘They said, pick any Monday night and they’ll be there. I think they were fairly open about what they plan to do and had a pretty straightforward breakdown of the University’s financial situation.”
Senior Scott Group, who attended the meeting as an observer, echoed Kirstein’s remarks, adding that he is confident in the University’s ability to accommodate the needs of its students.
‘I know that this upcoming year is going to be a tough one for the University and the rest of the country, for that matter,” Group said. ‘But I do believe that the University and its faculty will make the right decisions when it comes to tuition costs.”