I write to provide you with a status report on our budget for the current year and some preliminary steps that we are taking to develop a budget for the next fiscal year. I also write to ask for your help on an important issue.
At the Board of Regents meeting a few weeks ago, we presented the 2013-14 financial report. The financial condition of our University is sound. Last year, our assets grew modestly, and our bond rating and outlook remained stable.
Unfortunately, though, our enrollment for the current year did not meet the target we set last Spring when we built this year’s budget. Total enrollment in Fall 2014 compared to Fall 2013 declined 1.1%. Given current registration patterns, we anticipate a similar modest decline for Spring 2015.
As a result of this enrollment shortfall, we presently project that our actual tuition revenue will be approximately $3 million less than we budgeted. That shortfall does not require immediate budget reductions, because we have an adequate reserve for such purposes.
To be prudent, though, I have asked all of the vice presidents to scrutinize their respective budgets and begin identifying ways to curb spending in the current academic year. They will consider various strategies, including deferring major purchases and maintenance projects and closely evaluating whether it is vital to fill vacant positions at this time.
I also need your help. We need to do everything we can to serve more students and to help all of our students stay on track to graduation. Many of you and your colleagues have already begun implementing the enrollment strategies developed during the strategic planning process. I am grateful for your efforts, and I am confident that these strategies will be successful over the next few years.
But we need everyone’s immediate commitment to this effort. Every faculty and staff can contribute to our collective effort to retain existing students, particularly undergraduate students, and to recruit new students, particularly transfer students and graduate students. This task is not assigned to just as few of our colleagues. This work is everyone’s responsibility.
Some of you may ask, “What can I do to help students enroll?” You can pay close attention to students who appear to be challenged with returning next semester and direct them to appropriate campus support. You can also encourage current students to enroll in the Winter session and Spring semester, if they haven’t already done so, and you can encourage other adults of all ages to consider enrolling in classes at NKU.
Your collective actions can make a big difference – right now.
At our January convocation, the Provost and I will update you on our many accomplishments over the past year—accomplishments that have occurred because of your commitment and hard work. The Provost and I will also share some stories about the actions you are taking to help Fuel the Flame for student success.
I wish you a restful holiday season. Please enjoy the extra time with your family and friends. We will return in 2015 with a renewed dedication to the success of our students and to our University.
Geoffrey S. Mearns
Northern Kentucky University
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099