As the country experiences an economic downturn that has resulted in the U.S. stock market falling 40 percent within a year, college campuses have also been hit hard. While Grinnell has not had to sell its art holdings like Brandeis University, the College has not been unaffected.
The College’s prospective budget for fiscal year 2010 has been reduced in light of the economic crisis though approval of the budget has been postponed until April. As previously projected, the tentative budget features cuts for capital projects and includes a 15 percent increase in financial aid. The college is projecting the shrinking economy will effect the budgets for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
Grinnell’s endowment has incurred about $400 million in losses, and gifts to the College are estimated to decrease about 5 percent, according to President Russell K. Osgood.
“There will be cuts across the board in all areas, but it is our priority to focus resources on the core of the College’s Strategic Plan,” Vice-President and Treasurer of the College David Clay said.
Vice President for Institutional Planning Marci Sortor said the biggest impact will be on capital projects. New projects previously on the queue have been put on hold for fiscal year 2010, including a wind energy farm, expansion on the Grinnell preschool, software products, and possible addition of several new tennis courts. The College will also hold off on plans to tear down the PEC and replace it with parking and green space.
Projects already in progress will proceed. “Building for the athletic phase II will continue because stopping mid-project would result in more expenses dealing with inflation and construction costs,” Sortor said. “And we will continue with smaller projects like the Nollen House project and normal ongoing repair work.”
According to SGA Treasurer Emily Wax ‘09, administrators’ smaller budgets will impact funding for things such as transportation costs for conferences. “Students will need to get more creative when looking for funding,” she said.
Along the lines of the Strategic Plan, three new Expanding Knowledge Initiative (EKI) professors will be hired in Latino Studies, Islamic Studies and Policy Studies respectively, according to Sortor. Sortor said the College will try to fill vacancies as they come up. The College expects to fill five to seven positions, and the College will work to “re-engineer” and “consolidate” jobs left opened.
According to Osgood, he is considering the implementation of a wage cap on raises above a certain salary line for administrators, faculty, and staff, though no action has been taken.
Despite reduced revenues, administrators said that the school’s admission policy will not change from a need-blind to a need-aware policy for domestic students, as peer institutions like Macalester College have implemented. While Osgood said he is opposed to switching to a need-aware policy, he acknowledges normal adjustments to parental contribution and expenses will occur, though the $2,000 loan cap initiated last year will stay in place.
According to Osgood, the comprehensive cost of enrollment will increase by 3 percent, the same as last year, though the increase is less than previous years. Administrators said they will continue to make sure that the estimated financial need for new and current students will be met.
Osgood said he is also concerned with how the economic situation will affect students’ post-graduation plans. “I would like to ensure their success, and continue to support and protect Grinnell Corps, adding a prison program position, though an Anatolia, Greece program position has been cut for next year,” Osgood said.
Osgood said that in general the priority is to curb any major impact for student services, both financial and academic. “Budgets can’t always go up, and like a family, we experience ups and downs,” Osgood said, echoing the words of Iowa Governor Chet Culver. “Right now, we are trying to live with a down, and we are fighting not to lose jobs like the rest of the country.”