May

6

PrezBo Announces Endowment Decline of 22%, “Meaningful Expense Reductions”

Written by

PrezBo has decided to close the academic year with a less-than-cheery missive about the University’s budget. Not surprisingly, the numbers have declined more since January: “For the first nine months of the University’s fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009, the value of the endowment declined nearly 22%, with private investments and real assets valued on the normal one quarter lag as of December 31.” But, PrezBo claims, “while hardly good news, my sense is that this constitutes strong relative performance both compared to benchmark averages in the financial markets and university endowments nationally.”

As for cost-cutting measures, “meaningful expense reductions have been set in place.  Additionally, many salaries across the University will be held constant.” Additionally, as already announced in January, new hires will be “reviewed” across the university (read: will be significantly less likely), and no new “capital projects” will be started.

And it looks as if creditors are satisfied so far: “last week both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed their highest credit rating, Aaa and AAA respectively, for Columbia’s debt.” Other revenue streams continue to remain strong, including tuition. Then again, Bwog suspects tuition will continue keeping you poor, but at least no one’s going to be repossessing your room during finals. Full email after the jump.


Dear fellow member of the Columbia Community:

As this academic year closes, I want to provide a final update on where the University stands in the current economic recession. I want to say first how grateful I am to everyone who has worked so hard, sometimes under stressful conditions, to help the institution weather this economic downturn. While the University has not been as negatively affected as many of our peers, it is never an easy matter to address a world that has taken a sharp turn for the worse for a great many people.

Just to review, earlier in the year I wrote to identify several steps we were taking in the face of the downturn. I noted that we would institute a process in the central administration to review any new proposals for hiring. Similar mechanisms have now been put into place in schools across the University. The goal has been to deal with the financial challenges as much as possible through attrition. I also said we would only proceed with capital projects that are underway, that are donor-funded, or that are essential to ongoing operations and safety. We have introduced significant budgetary cuts in each part of the central administration. All of these approaches have contributed to sustaining a stable financial position for the University.

For fiscal year 2010, we set out to work with each school by planning for a reduction of 8% in the endowment support for operations. Since dependence on endowment varies across our schools, the impact also varies. In the annual budget meetings led by the Provost with the deans, various additional measures were developed to achieve balanced budgets for next year. Meaningful expense reductions have been set in place. Additionally, many salaries across the University will be held constant. I know these steps have called for difficult, but necessary, choices.

As is widely known, public markets declined further between the time I wrote in January and the end of March which is our most recent quarter for financial reporting purposes. For the first nine months of the University’s fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009, the value of the endowment declined nearly 22%, with private investments and real assets valued on the normal one quarter lag as of December 31. While hardly good news, my sense is that this constitutes strong relative performance both compared to benchmark averages in the financial markets and university endowments nationally. It also helps in this context that we are less dependent on our endowment than almost all of our peer universities. Nevertheless, planning for an 8% reduction in endowment support for the 2010 fiscal year appears prudent as a first step in absorbing these endowment declines. Our view of fiscal year 2011 will have to await the close of this fiscal year and a view of the market conditions and investment returns at that point.

Because of the measures we have applied, we have been able to maintain the overall financial health of the University. It is heartening news in the current environment that last week both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed their highest credit rating, Aaa and AAA respectively, for Columbia’s debt. For the entire Columbia community, this provides reassurance that we are taking the steps necessary to protect the long term financial health and forward momentum of the University.

It is also noteworthy that we continue to see growth in the majority of our most important revenue streams. Tuition, sponsored research, and patient care all remain strong across the University. As we expected, endowment gifts have slowed in recent months, but we are still ahead of projected gifts for the Columbia Campaign and the annual funds of our schools continue to hold up well.

Again, I want to express my deep appreciation to all of you for the help, ideas, and patience in adjusting to the current extraordinary economic downturn.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

Tags: , , , ,

17 Comments

  1. Shrinkage  

    When I want my endowment to grow, I think about baseball.

    But then again, I really like the Mets.

    • Dude  

      See, this is why the whole "prize for the funniest comment" thing is so counterproductive. Funny people will be funny whether or not there is a reward for it, but the reward will encourage unfunny people to make moronic attempts at humor.

  2. I think...  

    ...that sneaky Belgian's are stealing our endowment

  3. ...  

    May 6 - Lot of 350 40" Plasma Flatscreen TVs - $425 - (Harlem / Morningside)

  4. have  

    have you guys ever considered the crocodile?

  5. first step  

    fire the fucking Union that strangles all of columbia outside Lerner Hall.

    • yup  

      this is a good point. unions do drain a lot of money. i know public universities are pretty much obligated to have union workers, but is a private university like columbia obligated?

      • Yes

        ...though TAs, RAs, etc. still aren't allowed to unionize.

        But you're crazy if you think unions are the primary culprit in Columbia's current financial straits.

        • no but  

          a lot of departments are in dire financial situation, independent of the recession, because of ridiculous union demands. Dining is the prime example of this. And if you want to rent an AV projector for a group event outside lerner, you have to pay $80 and hour, with a minimum of 2 hours, using a projector that costs less than $500, and no technician on hand to help you. A mike and sound system for Earl Auditorium is $300+. These people truly are out of their minds and enrich themselves at the cost of Columbia students.

      • To clarify

        Columbia isn't obligated to hire union labor per se -- only if the particular contingent of workers (maintenance workers, librarians, lab techs, etc.) have won a unionization ballot under the NLRA.

  6. grrrr  

    i wonder why we're "seeing growth" in tuition revenue...

    the b-tards!

  7. hmmmm  

    Why doesn't the pompous asshole cut back on his own astronomical salary and ridiculous perks?

  8. Oh, fuck  

    shit's hitting the fan now.

  9. Alum

    "...and no new 'capital projects' will be started."

    That's not what PrezBo said. What he actually said is that CU will "proceed with capital projects that are underway, that are donor-funded, or that are essential to ongoing operations and safety."

    The Jerome Greene Science Center is donor-funded, so presumably the university will proceed with it. I believe delaying the project would risk forfeiting the $200+ million donation that funded it.

    I'll bet several other projects will be deemed "essential" under PrezBo's stated standards and will proceed, though most of these will be renovations rather than new construction.

  10. GS'er on the ins

    BREAKING NEWS -- GSSC OVERTURNS ELECTION RESULTS...

    CAN'T THEY EVER GET IT RIGHT? FUCKING OLD DRAMA QUEENS

  11. Jim Smith

    Why the Belgians?

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.