The financial impact of the global economic crisis continues to present enormous challenges to private colleges. Our three primary sources of revenue are significantly affected as our students and their families are challenged to secure the financial resources to pay tuition; the endowment distribution is down as the endowment value struggles to recover; and donor contributions to the annual fund increased by slightly less than 2 percent but were below budgeted expectations. Yet in spite of these daunting challenges, the university has seen a positive upswing in student revenue due to a larger incoming freshman class this past year. This additional revenue helped to offset both a reduction in the endowment distribution and a modest increase in annual-fund giving.
Under the leadership of President Beck we remain committed to the guiding principal that all financial actions taken ensure that the academic and artistic core is maintained if not enhanced. Our top priorities are the educational experiences of our students and the individualized attention they receive from faculty in classrooms, laboratories and studios.
Our recruitment team has done a terrific job finding ways to create financial aid packages responding to our students’ family financial hardships caused by the economic crisis. The entire university community has been vigilant in managing expenses. This past year we were able to offer employees a modest salary increase after having had a salary freeze in place in the prior year. The cap on the retirement contributions that employees experienced in the prior year was also lifted. In the last three years, the college has eliminated $6.4 million of line of credit debt and reduced long-term debt by over 20 percent with well over $11 million in principal payments.
Lawrence ended the year with a modest surplus due to higher than planned enrollment and fiscal prudence exercised by employees. Heartfelt thanks go out to all of our faculty and staff for their sacrifices and extra efforts in dealing with a very large freshman class while exercising financial frugality. In light and in support of the ambitious and highly disciplined work of the college we are hopeful that the commitment of our alumni will strengthen, bringing increased growth to annual giving as well as other forms of gift giving. In spite of the serious global economic crisis, Lawrence University is moving forward as a vibrant academic and artistic institution that is making tremendous strides in its financial position. This exciting momentum is fully attributable to the commitment of the entire Lawrence community.
Brian J. Riste
Vice President for Business and Operations