Welcome back students! Or welcome to the new year for those of us who never left. If this opening salvo sounds a little awkward or self-conscious, that’s because I haven’t posted since the final week of classes last May. But, having taken the summer off—and returned to the role of Dean of the College after a year as Acting Provost—I am ready to get back in the routine of blogging at least once a week (at least I think I am!).
A lot has happened in a year. That point is obvious and perhaps I should have marked it as such with the preface “needless to say,” or “it goes without saying.” But occasionally I hear comments on campus that suggest that some people really don’t understand how much the economic ground has shifted in the last year. The College’s endowment now stands at $722 million, down from its high of $986 million two years ago. That’s a significant drop, which becomes even more significant, when you realize that we expected the endowment to grow at a rate of 9% a year during that time period. Instead it shrank. And since 23% of our operating budget comes from the endowment, that loss in wealth has pushed us to reduce budgets, reevaluate our financial model, and consider a range of cost-cutting measures, which, if you’ve been keeping up with the news of last year, has been the work of the Budget Oversight Committee and the Staff Resources Committee.
I don’t mean to tell the news again here, especially since much of this information has been archived on the College web site. Anyone looking for an overview of Middlebury’s financial situation should start there.
But what I do want to do in this space is answer any question anyone has about Middlebury’s financial situation and the steps the College is taking to deal with this new economy. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask someone else. My responses will appear in the comments section, or as a separate post.
In coming weeks, I also plan to include links to external stories that address the impact of the changing economy on higher education. Some people are calling the changes that lie ahead “the new normal.” We shall see.
In the meantime, feel free to ask questions.