Lahey: Time for ‘belt-tightening’

By on January 21, 2009

The current recession has taken a heavy toll on Quinnipiac University’s financial situation–one of about $50 million. The university’s endowment shrunk from $225 million to $175 million over the past year, a drop of about 20 percent.

In a memo to faculty and staff received by The Quinnipiac Chronicle, President John L. Lahey outlined plans for a tuition increase for the 2009-10 school year.

The increase in undergraduate tuition, room and board, set for 4.87 percent, was approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting on Dec. 9. This is the smallest increase in 20 years.

Lahey imposed a “temporary” hiring freeze upon the university in regards to faculty and staff. It is the first hiring freeze of Lahey’s 22-year tenure as president.

Cabinet members of the university, including Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Mark Thompson and Vice President and Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro, have been asked to prepare recommendations for five percent reductions in operation and personnel budgets. Lahey insisted that no budget cuts have been finalized.

The Board also approved a 15 percent increase in financial aid, “bringing this budget to its highest level as a percent of the total budget in 20 years,” Lahey said.

“We have to expect, plan for and budget with the worst in mind,” Lahey told The Chronicle. “It’s a lot easier to add to the budget in September than to take away from it.”

Lahey said that advertising, the Polling Institute and publications were likely to face the major cuts while academic budgets would be the least impacted.

“This will have no negative effect on the level of education,” he said. “Core education will not be reduced in any way.”

“While we trust these decisions will be of assistance to our students and their parents in these difficult times, the combined effect of these actions will also result in the smallest percentage increase in net tuition revenue in our operating budget in almost 20 years,” Lahey said.

Next year’s salaries for the University’s president and vice presidents will remain at their 2008-09 figures.

Lahey also said that Quinnipiac is considering utilizing a waiting list for next year, as applications have gone up seven percent. The administration expects 17,000 applications for the 1,600 seats in the freshman class.

Lahey said Quinnipiac will require “some belt tightening,” but will also remain focused on its long-term goals.

“I think we need to plan and budget with the worst in mind but at the same time remain committed to our long-term Strategic Plan for Academic Excellence and National Prominence, funding its priorities more slowly and prudently and where possible eliminating or reducing activities of lower priority or less strategic significance,” Lahey said.

Faculty and staff searches currently underway are “quite likely” to be eliminated.

“While these are obviously very challenging times for people in general as well as in higher education, Quinnipiac University is as well positioned as almost any of our peers to weather this storm, albeit with some pain, and emerge even stronger and healthier in the years ahead,” Lahey said. “As always, we need your dedication and leadership, good will and wisdom to meet these new challenges and to achieve our shared vision and goals.”

“It’s certainly a challenge,” he said. “But we have to be prudent and fiscally conservative.”

Contributions made by Andrew Fletcher and Andrew Vazzano.


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