During the first Faculty Senate meeting of the semester on Tuesday, UR President Joel Seligman addressed the community regarding the state of the University and how it is weathering a period of economic distress.
‘[This has been] the most serious economic emergency we have faced in the post World War II period,’ Seligman said.
In the recent downturn, the University accrued losses in endowment value invested in the stock market of about 19 percent. Seligman stressed that, at the same time, UR is committed to increasing financial aid awards to students and to raising tuition by less than many other peer universities.
Seligman outlined the advances made by the University this past year, despite the challenges of the current economic climate. Among those noted were the renovation of the Eastman Kodak Theater, the dedication of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the increase of alumni contributions to fundraising campaigns, the 10 Grammy nominations received by Eastman faculty and alumni and the growth of the undergraduate application pool.
Seligman also stressed the University’s continued economic importance as Rochester’s largest employer, creating 155 additional jobs in a year when most institutions were laying off large numbers of employees.
‘The University is not in crisis and will emerge from this challenge well positioned,’ Seligman said.
Recapping the strategies employed by UR since the start of the financial crisis was another focal point of Seligman’s address.
‘Each division of the University responded remarkably effectively to the economic emergency,’ he said.
Several efforts were implemented to ensure that the University remains in good standing. Capital projects were put to a halt, total endowment payouts were reduced from $98 million to $83 million, overall expenses of the medical center were reduced by $40 million and all employees earning more than $40,000 had a pay freeze.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding future deficits, rising inflation, and unforeseen healthcare costs, Seligman expressed his determination that the economic situation will not affect the core of the academics.
‘I strongly believe that as a strong research university we will continue to do well,’ he remarked.
According to Seligman, UR has not been hurt as much by the financial crisis as many other universities due to the fact that the revenue base of the University is less reliant on the volatility of stock markets.
Being one of the smallest research universities, Seligman stressed that increasing the size of the faculty while also strengthening the quality of our education will be a substantial challenge as the University moves forward.
Some additional goals include strengthening the resource base of research, making efforts to be as efficient as possible, increasing support for a dynamic and dedicated faculty and incorporating more diversity initiatives.
In addition to discussing the University’s troubles, Seligman stressed the importance of assisting those in need across the globe. Specifically, he emphasized extending help to the people of Haiti.
As the address came to a close, President Seligman discussed his hope for the future of the University. ‘I share the optimism and patience of Susan B. Anthony – if we continue to proceed as a university working together to implement our plans, failure is impossible,’ he concluded.
Radovani is a member of the class of 2012.