Last year, colleges and universities nationwide felt the effects of the slow economy as endowments turned in poor performance and on-campus recruiting by employers dropped significantly. Yet as even the wealthiest schools plan budget cuts, UR remains confident of its financial footing.

“The general conditions are tough in the economy. This is a change in the environment affecting all universities,” Senior Vice-President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Ronald Paprocki said. According to Paprocki, for the fiscal year ending in June 2002, UR’s endowment decreased slightly, but the 2.8 percent hit that the university took was significantly below the average loss faced by schools nationwide.

In fact, as many institutions face a reduction in private gifts, UR has sustained an increase over the last two years. “We do well compared to our institutional peers…fundraising over the last few years has increased from historical levels because of increased efforts in alumni relations,” Paprocki said.

Since most universities experienced double digit gains during the market boom that ended three years ago, the current situation of continued endowment losses presents new challenges to many institutions. Stanford University has responded by asking departments to reduce budgets five to 10 percent and has instituted a hiring freeze. According to Dean of The College William Green, even Harvard, considered to be the wealthiest university in the country, has instituted a soft freeze on hiring.

Capital projects have also been postponed at other wealthy schools including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College.Like most private universities, UR uses a combination of funds from its endowment, gifts, tuition and other revenue to operate. “[Since] a significant part of the school’s revenue is not increasing, there will be an effect on operations,” Paprocki said.

While UR has not planned any program cuts, it will continue to do everything possible to control increases in spending. Steps that have been taken already include the postponement of discretionary capital projects and the negotiation of fuel contracts to minimize increases in energy costs.

According to Green, undergraduate programs at the university will receive essentially the same funding as last year, but new initiatives will be restricted. “We did a lot of our cutting years ago,” Green said. “We’re already operating on a very tight budget.” According to Green, any tuition increases will be on par with those of comparable institutions.Response to job market

Seniors hoping for a resurrected job market since the disappointment many of last year’s graduates faced while seeking jobs may have to wait another year. Yet as salaries remain flat — with many firms planning no increases in entry level pay or in hirings from last year — and as on campus recruiting decreases, new job searching strategies at UR’s Career Center may provide hope.

“In tough times, on campus recruiting and formalized recruitment efforts, including postings, dramatically decrease,” Assistant Dean and Career Center Director Burt Nadler said. “Conversely, if candidates are to be effective, creative and proactive efforts must increase.”

Last year, the Career Center developed new strategies specifically designed to provide students with the tools needed for a successful job search in these tough times. This initiative included the implementation of UR Contacts In Rsum Collections, which yielded over 8,000 resumes which were sent to 300 employers last year. “We have one of the best and largest undergraduate rsum collection programs in the country, and we are proud that it addresses the needs of our post-baccalaureate and internship job seekers, particularly during difficult economic and employment times,” Nadler said.

According to Nadler, because UR’s Career Center is not as dependent on recruiting as other institutions, students here have not been as affected by the nationwide decrease in employer presence on campus.Student reaction

However, the general effects of a slow economy have been frustrating to many students at the university who are seeking internships and entry-level positions.

“You can tell everyone is feeling the effects because they are planning on going to graduate school. It will be interesting in two or three years when so many people will be even more educated and looking for jobs,” junior Sarah Malecki said.

Senior Melita Thomas has had difficulties finding a company that is hiring. “I went to the Career Center for help but there is only so much they can do,” Thomas said. “Companies I talked to said they were reluctant to hire anyone at this time.”

Senior Odetta Fraser has elected to go to graduate school in hopes that an advanced degree will expand her career opportunities in these tough times. “While experience would have been good, this is not the time to get experience,” Fraser said.

Students not faced with graduation this year have hopes for the future, but are still concerned. “Hopefully by the time I graduate it will be better,” sophomore Mike Kagan said.

Nadler offered some advice to students who feel disappointed by the employment environment. “Stay focused, start early, be persistent, remain patient, and don’t be surprised if you have to ‘turn up the heat’ on your efforts,” Nadler said.

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