Sound financial management for turbulent times
Posted on October 13, 2008
To the Wheaton community,
The ongoing global financial crisis has caused turmoil throughout much of the U.S. economy and it has provoked uneasiness on many college campuses. In the past week, members of the Wheaton community have asked me whether and how Wheaton has been affected by the recent downturn in world financial markets.
Happily, I can report that the college’s financial situation remains strong, thanks to sound budget control and the institution’s extremely low reliance on debt financing. Nevertheless, Wheaton needs to take steps now to prepare for potential future impacts. Given the depth of the financial problems besetting our economy, we should anticipate the possibility of a substantial increase in demand on the college’s financial aid budget this spring and next year. To help our students and families, the college must prepare to allocate more resources now for scholarship support.
Beginning today, I am directing college officers and department heads to conduct a careful review before filling open staff positions. My intention is not to institute a hiring freeze, but to ensure that hiring decisions are evaluated carefully, given the drastically changed environment. I will expect a report from the appropriate college officer before authorizing personnel searches for new or open positions.
In addition, every department should scrutinize non-essential spending for cost-saving potential. For example, entertainment expenditures, such as catering expenses, should be eliminated or scaled back. I have already directed my own staff to reduce expenses for events that my office typically hosts, including those at the Presidents’ House. I would welcome your suggestions about other areas in which the college might realize cost savings.
Additional cost-saving measures may be required, but acting immediately to contain spending will help to alleviate potential problems that may arise over the next year. The Board of Trustees will discuss the financial crisis and its potential affect on Wheaton at its meeting later this week, though no particular action by the Trustees is anticipated.
In closing, I want to emphasize Wheaton’s robust financial health. We are taking action now to maintain the college’s financial stability and to ensure our students’ access to a Wheaton education in this time of ongoing economic challenge. I appreciate your support on behalf of our students and the college.