Bad News Bears
Written by Bwog Staff
More bad news regarding endowments, this time that of Barnard. In an email sent to alumnae, President D.Spar announced that the school’s endowment, which was around $200 million when she assumed the presidency, will be just $150 million at the end of the year. Both numbers, she admitted, are small compared to those of peer institutions. (Wellesley, for example, has an endowment of $1.67 billion.)
Spar was also quick to point out that “contrary to what many people believe, we have no connection whatsoever to Columbia’s endowment, so every dollar we spend on faculty salaries, or library books, or heat for our classrooms must come from one of only three main sources: our endowment, our current students, or our annual fund.”
Full email after the jump
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Debora Spar <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 10:30:05 AM
Subject: An Important Barnard Update
I hope this note finds you happy and well, enjoying some time with family and friends. It has been a wild ride in 2008 and we all could use, I suspect, a bit of a break.
I wanted to take this end-of-the-year opportunity to let you know how things stand at Barnard, to reassure you of our underlying strength, and to ask for your support in what remains a very troubling time.
The bad news is obvious. Barnard, like nearly every college, non-profit group, and individual in the United States, has been hit hard by the financial turmoil unleashed this year. When I assumed the college presidency in July, our endowment, always small compared to those of our peer institutions, had passed the $200 million mark for the first time. By year’s end, it will almost certainly hover closer to $150 million. Our financial aid commitment has risen from $27.3 million to $28.7 million, and we are now fielding calls daily from parents unable to pay their daughters’ tuition bills. Contrary to what many people believe, we have no connection whatsoever to Columbia’s endowment, so every dollar we spend on faculty salaries, or library books, or heat for our classrooms must come from one of only three main sources: our endowment, our current students, or our annual fund. And all of these, as you can imagine, are facing unprecedented stress.
The good news is that we have long been accustomed to managing on a much tighter budget than many of our peers. We never invested in fancy dormitories or superstar salaries, and so we do not now have the burden of supporting them. We have accelerated a review of our entire cost structure and, at our December board meeting, our trustees personally provided $535,000 in new gifts to begin to meet the increasingly urgent need for financial-aid funding.
Together, I know, we will not only weather this storm but emerge stronger from it. We will strengthen cherished programs in dance, writing, human rights, and art history; grow new initiatives in globalization and women’s leadership; and give our faculty and students the support they need to thrive. But we need your help now, perhaps, more than ever. In these tough times, we are loath to raise tuition or reduce financial aid, yet tuition, room, and board cover only 76% of our annual operating budget of $112 million, $95 million of which is purely fixed costs: the costs of our outstanding faculty, of energy, of our security staff, of the nurses who staff our clinic and the counselors who advise our students. We are trying to cut costs wherever we can, but there is only so far that we can, and should, go. Because we aren’t willing to compromise what matters most: our commitment to provide an outstanding liberal arts education to women who aspire to greatness.
I know that this year has been hard for us all. But we enter 2009 with a new administration in the wings, a palpable sense of hope among our students, and a resolution to create a new and more diverse group of leaders to bring our communities, our nation, and our world toward a better future. Barnard’s women will be part of that future. I look forward to working with you to make it happen.
P.S. Any additional philanthropy we can raise at this time will be put to immediate use. To offer your support, please contact the Development Office at 212-854-7806 or visit giving.barnard.edu/support.