Dear Faculty and Staff:
Recent headlines at Villanova have been extremely positive: six Fulbright finalists; a student-created documentary, The Price of Life, receiving numerous film festival accolades; the second largest pool of applicants for undergraduate admission in the history of the University; national championships for Women’s Cross Country and Football. These are just a few of the many exciting things that happen every day on campus which, when taken together, help instill pride among the larger Villanova community.
With so many good things to celebrate, it can be easy to forget that our University and our nation continue to struggle through a sustained period of economic uncertainty. The prudent financial practices that historically have guided Villanova continue to do so today. Our policies have provided us the flexibility needed over the past year to assist students and families facing financial hardship and to avoid employee layoffs.
Indeed, while we must remain vigilant, we are fortunate to be on solid footing: departments throughout campus continue to carefully monitor budgets and expenditures; interest in our University remains strong among prospective students; and Villanova became one of only three private universities in the nation in 2009 to receive an upgrade from Moody’s Investors Services.
These serve to validate the steps we have taken to adapt to the challenging economy, including the recently lifted hiring freeze for vacant faculty and staff positions. They also provide some measure of confidence as we seek to ensure the stability and well-being of the University.
Our shared commitment to our students dictates that we must continue moving forward to enrich and enhance a Villanova education. While this remains our focus, we also must address rising costs for critical operating expenses, the ongoing financial challenges that many of our families face, and the retention of our talented faculty and staff.
These are among the considerations weighed in the preparation of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, which was approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting on February 9th. This budget is balanced, supports the University’s Strategic Plan, and includes:
- A 2.9% increase in tuition, fees, room, and board for the 2010–2011 academic year, the lowest increase at Villanova in nearly 40 years. We take very seriously any increase to the cost of a Villanova education but as you know, the University depends a great deal upon tuition revenue. The funds generated by this increase will provide important resources to support teaching and learning throughout campus.
- An 11% increase to the budget for University-funded undergraduate financial assistance for the 2010–2011 academic year, building upon the 9% increase instituted last year. All forms of undergraduate financial aid now total approximately $69 million. While we consider the increase in fees necessary to maintain the quality of education, we hope that this increased commitment to financial assistance will ease the burden on our students and their families. I encourage you to read more about the increases to tuition and financial assistance in a letter recently sent to parents of students.
In addition, after a recommendation from the Administrative Budget Committee and President's Cabinet, the FY2011 budget also has established a salary pool for merit based raises at 3%. The challenging economy has affected us all in different and often significant ways. I cannot thank you enough – the University's committed faculty and staff – for your hard work and sacrifice during this period. Your efforts have helped ensure that we were able to avoid layoffs and therefore not contribute to the nation’s unemployment. As we cautiously move the University forward, it is important that we remain collectively committed to our responsible financial practices. The economic challenges facing the University and the nation are still very real, and we must move carefully to ensure that Villanova is able to remain stable and secure. I ask that you continue to monitor budgets, control expenditures, and maximize efficiencies. Please do your best to be careful stewards of the University’s resources. Thank you for all that you do to contribute to the vibrancy on campus. It is your energy and enthusiasm that allows us to overcome any challenge we may face as a community.
Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., President