The turbulence that has gripped our economy over the past several weeks has created a period of uncertainty not experienced in generations. This difficult environment affects the University in many ways and yet, I believe that Villanova is well positioned to meet these challenges. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how we plan to weather the current economic conditions and take steps to move the University forward.
For many years, Villanova has engaged in disciplined and conservative budgetary practices which have allowed us to build up cash reserves sufficient to satisfy our financial obligations. These include payroll, accounts payable, and current capital initiatives such as the new facility for the School of Law which will be completed on schedule.
Our endowment also has been affected by the turbulent market conditions. Proceeds from our endowment provide important support to the University’s operating budget and therefore, we take seriously our responsibility to employ a prudent approach to investing these assets and spending the proceeds. This approach means that peaks and valleys in market conditions have less of an impact on the endowment’s support of the budget. In times like these, such prudence provides a measure of confidence that proceeds from our endowment will continue to provide budgetary support and fund key initiatives throughout the University. The University’s financial management team, along with the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, is regularly monitoring market conditions to ensure that the endowment is appropriately invested to provide long-term support for the University.
The Villanova community shares a commitment to providing our students with an excellent educational experience, and it is especially during these times that our Augustinian beliefs and values can shine through. We are helping to provide access to funding to support tuition costs and we have a process in place in the Financial Assistance office to address difficult financial situations caused by the current economic uncertainty. Now more than ever, we need to be here for our students and their families.
While these initiatives reflect the broad strategies in place at the University, each of us must consider ways in which we can contribute to ensuring that Villanova remains on solid financial footing. I encourage each department to review budgets and maximize opportunities for cost savings. By being proactive in this way, our community can remain prepared to adequately address any future economic fluctuations.
Moving forward, we will continue our long-standing discipline of balanced budgets, living within our means, and prudent financial management. This eventually could require that we delay portions of the strategic and campus master plans, and also may include a review of open faculty and staff positions, the implementation of measures to limit expenditures, and the development of alternative budgets.
These are decisions that will be dictated by many factors, including the breadth and scope of the turbulence in the financial markets. The President’s Cabinet, Administrative Budget Committee, and the Deans will continue working together with guidance from our Board of Trustees to assess the University’s financial conditions and make the appropriate decisions regarding strategic initiatives.
This is a troubling time for everyone but it presents an opportunity for us to gain strength from each other. I ask that everyone remember in their thoughts and prayers our many students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni who are affected by this economic instability. We will weather these difficult times together and emerge a stronger Villanova community, prepared to face the challenges of the future.
Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., President