This is an important period in the history of The College of Saint Rose. Facing challenges, and being brave enough to address them – as a community – will lead to a stronger Saint Rose.
Today, Interim President Marcia J. White met with the Representative Committee of the Faculty (Rep Com). She shared that the College’s Board of Trustees has directed that Rep Com works with the faculty to develop a process to review the College’s academic programs with the goal of drafting a plan to reduce the expenses related to the College’s degree offerings by $6 million. The College’s Board of Trustees has directed that this work be completed before the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester.
Any loss of faculty positions would not take effect until December 2021. The College, in following the Faculty Manual, is seeking to work through this process in partnership with the faculty over the next three months. Today’s meeting followed a meeting President White had with the College’s Representative Committee of the Faculty in early July, in which she shared with them the College’s current financial situation. The College’s 2020-2021 budget is $71 million.
This announcement does not impact the ability of current students – including new students for Fall 2020 – to complete their degrees at Saint Rose.
“As an alum of the College, I have taken on this role because I love this College and want to help move it to a place of strength,” said White, who after she was tapped to lead the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 2005, replaced 15 years of financial deficits with 12 consecutive operating budget surpluses and raised over $20 million.
“This is not the first time I have navigated an organization through turbulent times. No operation wants to face the possible elimination of part of its workforce. We also recognize, unfortunately, that there are many Americans who are experiencing these realities in life due to the pandemic. The choices we are making today are for our future students, for the faculty and other employees who will remain, and for the long-term health of a college that is an integral part of Albany and an economic engine in the Capital Region.”
The process the College is undertaking is now common in higher education as colleges and universities throughout the country are facing similar financial challenges due to a reduced pool of college-age students and the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. After much consideration over the past several months, the College’s Board of Trustees has decided that the College can no longer simply react to these realities, it must be proactive in addressing them. Working in partnership with the faculty, the purpose of this process is to set Saint Rose on a sound financial path for the future. Transformation begins with the reality that Saint Rose cannot be all things to all people. This process will enable the College to innovate and invest in programs that meet the needs of the times, in keeping with the values of its founders, and emerge focused on its mission of delivering a high-quality, rigorous personal learning experience to every student.
The changes will also allow the College to build upon the momentum generated by new offerings, including the 2-in-4 program, in which students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years, and the return of a nursing degree, in which Saint Rose was a leader before the program was discontinued in the 1950s. As the College moves into the future, Saint Rose will remain aligned with its mission of developing the whole person, creating an inclusive community that starts with a focus on anti-racism, and by attaining educational excellence through methods that meet the needs of today’s graduate and undergraduate students and busy professionals.
Already, the College has realized nearly $8 million in savings through eliminating the positions of 20 administrators and staff and eliminating or freezing 50 vacant administrator and staff positions. Pay cuts of 5 to 10% have been extended through this fiscal year for administrators and non-unionized staff who make more than $50,000 a year. The reductions also included the freezing of the pension plan for hourly employees, offering a phased retirement plan for faculty, ending consulting contracts, and $1.7 million in cuts to operating budgets.
With the College’s recent efforts pertaining to administrators and staff, a projected $15.8 million deficit has been reduced to $9.6 million. While those reductions were significant, a nearly $10 million structural deficit is not something the College can continue to carry, and in order to be sustainable for another century, Saint Rose must shift to become a more focused institution.
Saint Rose, which will mark its 100th anniversary in September, serves approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, with 84% of students coming from within New York State. The College employs 520 faculty, staff, and administrators.
“If you read the higher education trade publications, you know that no one is painting a rosy picture for our sector. Colleges and universities around the country are facing similar budget crises. But we must emerge from this a stronger, more sustainable institution. Because of our community, I have faith in our ability to beat the odds,” White said. “With the same resolve and vision held by the College’s founders 100 years ago, we are viewing adversity as an opportunity to grow and better meet the needs of our students and community. As a person of faith, my guiding book tells me that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. Because of our faith in Saint Rose, this mountain will move.”