St. Mary’s Col­lege prunes bud­get af­ter en­roll­ment short­fall

A dozen po­si­tions elim­i­nated as part of $2.7 mil­lion cut

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com

St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land of­fi­cials — for the sec­ond time in four years — fell short of stu­dent en­roll­ment goals, and will lose ap­prox­i­mately $2.7 mil­lion in an­tic­i­pated tu­ition, room and board, and other fees this year.

The fis­cal 2018 op­er­at­ing bud­get is now $67.5 mil­lion based on an en­roll­ment pro­jec­tion of 1,411 full-time un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents, which is 112 fewer than the prior year’s as­sump­tion, trustee John Woben­smith said dur­ing a board tele­con­fer­ence last Thurs­day.

State fund­ing to­tals $25 mil­lion, he said. Tu­ition rates for both in-state and out-of-state stu­dents in­creased 2 per­cent and aux­il­iary fees in­creased 3 per­cent, as ap­proved by the board in May. Funds raised through tu­ition are es­ti­mated to to­tal $19.7 mil­lion, and stu­dent fees will bring in about $3.1 mil­lion. Sales and ser­vice rev­enue is ex­pected at $18.2 mil­lion.

Be­cause of the de­cline in en­roll­ment, St. Mary’s board of trustees on Thurs­day ad­justed down the col­lege’s op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­gets, in­clud­ing prun­ing 12 va­cant po­si­tions in de­part­ments such as in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and the li­brary. Other cuts to this year’s fis­cal bud­get in­clude a re­duc­tion to fac­ulty per­son­nel sav­ings due to re­tire­ments, elim­i­na­tion of pay raises and de­fer­ring strate­gic ini­tia­tives.

Board pres­i­dent Sven Holmes said the trustees and the cam­pus com­mu­nity have worked col­lab­o­ra­tively to de­velop plans to com­bat the en­roll­ment de­cline. “Our pri­or­ity is stu­dent en­roll­ment,” he said. “The fac­ulty is fully en­gaged in the process.”

“We’re at a point where we need help from the out­side,” Tua­juanda Jor­dan, col­lege pres­i­dent,

said dur­ing the tele­con­fer­ence. Col­lege staff will “bring peo­ple in to help with fi­nan­cial aid, stu­dent re­cruit­ment” as well as mar­ket­ing and col­lege brand­ing, she said.

The goal is to strate­gi­cally plan for ways to “at­tract, re­cruit and re­tain” stu­dents, and get “what we need to have on cam­pus to get stu­dents to thrive on cam­pus,” she said.

Chip Jack­son, vice pres­i­dent for busi­ness and fi­nance, said af­ter the meet­ing “there is no ques­tion en­roll­ment is lower than an­tic­i­pated.” Jack­son said in a phone call the col­lege will ex­pe­ri­ence a $1.2 mil­lion re­duc­tion in tu­ition rev­enue, ac­count­ing for the fewer stu­dents and 2 per­cent ap­proved in­crease in tu­ition rates.

The col­lege in 2013 also was un­able to fill its ad­mis­sion goals. That year the trustees also had to cut mil­lions from the bud­get when en­roll­ment fell short by more than 100 stu­dents un­der the lead­er­ship of Joseph Urgo, who did not have his con­tract re­newed as pres­i­dent af­ter the short­fall was an­nounced.

Jack­son said lower en­roll­ment this year is a com­bi­na­tion of a lower num­ber of first-time col­lege stu­dents who re­cently grad­u­ated from high school com­bined with a smaller num­ber of trans­fer stu­dents.

“Trans­fer stu­dents make up 20 per­cent” of the over­all en­roll­ment, Jack­son said. Col­lege staff mem­bers have “worked to in­crease the num­ber of trans­fer stu­dents over the last three years,” he said.

The lower en­roll­ment mir­rors a na­tional de­cline of the num- ber of stu­dents en­rolling at post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, Jack­son said. Many com­pa­ra­ble col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties, such as the Univer­sity of Mary Wash­ing­ton in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va., are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a de­cline in en­roll­ment, too, and that de­cline is ex­pected to con­tinue un­til 2019. At that time, it is ex­pected that en­roll­ment rates will be­gin to pick up grad­u­ally, he said.

The 12 po­si­tions cut prior to the fi­nal­iza­tion of the bud­get in­clude jobs in the li­brary, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, ad­vance­ment op­er­a­tions and the phys­i­cal plant, Jack­son said. A va­cant fac­ulty po­si­tion in phi­los­o­phy and re­li­gion and a va­cant fac­ulty po­si­tion in his­tory have been elim­i­nated, but a fac­ulty po­si­tion in en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies has been added to that grow- ing pro­gram, he said.

Sen. Steve Waugh (R, St. Mary’s, Calvert) said in a tele­phone in­ter­view Fri­day that col­lege staff are “com­mit­ted to the col­lege in gen­eral,” adding that they are “hit­ting in the right di­rec­tion [and] com­pete ag­gres­sively na­tion­wide.”

Waugh said the col­lege’s Cen­ter for the Study of Democ­racy is a “unique as­set in the state.”

Kel­ley Her­nan­dez, staff se­nate pres­i­dent, said in a phone call on Mon­day she was a stu­dent at the col­lege from 2004 through 2008, and has been an em­ployee since 2009. She said she’s been with the col­lege through its high and low points, and said it is “hard to hear” when the col­lege is strug­gling to make its bud­get.

“Any­time you see an im­pact [in­volv­ing the bud­get], it’s im­por­tant to take a step back and breathe,” she said. The po­si­tions cut were va­cant po­si­tions and “no­body had to be let go,” she said.

Her­nan­dez said col­lege staff cur­rently have not shared with her any neg­a­tive com­ments about the fi­nal­ized bud­get.

Jor­dan said in a June 15 re­lease that David L. Hau­ta­nen Jr. was been ap­pointed as the new vice pres­i­dent of en­roll­ment man­age­ment. Haun­ta­nen has “more than 25 years in the ad­mis­sions and en­roll­ment field,” she said. “I am cer­tain David has the ex­pe­ri­ence and skills nec­es­sary to help us ad­e­quately ad­dress the en­roll­ment chal­lenges that St. Mary’s Col­lege has en­dured the last sev­eral years.”

Woben­smith

Jor­dan

Holmes

Jack­son

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