Closing the loop…our last update for 14-15

In our last update on our Sustainable Budget planning process for the year, President Cornwell closes the loop on our work (the Board adopted our budget recommendation), highlights the recommendations that are included in the budget, and shares the Board of Trustees’ request for our continuing work, noting that “going forward will not require the intensity of this year’s effort.”

Dear Fellow Scots,

I write to offer a final update on the Sustainable Budget Process, one of our strategic priorities for 2014-15 that we completed over the past year.

You will recall that our framing principles for this project required us to protect or enhance the integrity of our core educational mission and strengthen our market competitiveness as we faced the challenge of smaller annual increases in our budget than those to which we had been accustomed. Each division of the College took on the challenge of identifying new sources of revenue, reductions in expenditures, and ways of doing things differently. Students, faculty, and staff submitted ideas that were considered by applicable divisions, and the ideas were vetted and prioritized with emerging recommendations presented to campus constituencies for feedback.

I am both proud of and grateful for the way the campus as a whole rose to the challenge with the commitment, good will, and boundless energy that characterizes any effort we undertake to help further strengthen the foundations of a place that is dear to us. Not every college can elicit that sort of response from the members of its campus community – as evidenced by The Chronicle of Higher Education’s interest in our work this year.

The final phase of our process was to craft a budget recommendation for the 2015-16 fiscal year and present it to the Board of Trustees at its May 2015 meeting, which we did, and which was approved by the Board.

We presented the budget recommendation in two parts to the Trustees:  the first was a description of the assumptions underlying the revenues and expenditures depicted in the budget accompanied by the actual budget statement; the second was an outline of how the resources in the budget will be deployed to fulfill our strategic objectives and priorities. A copy of each of those documents is available on our planning wiki (login required).

As you will see, the 2015-16 budget reflects expenditure reductions and new revenues totaling $2,265,000 from our sustainable budget planning work. Examples of some of the changes that will be implemented in the coming year include:

  • New sources of revenue include an aggressive goal for the Wooster Fund of $3.5 million, a $400,000 increase over the year just ending; revenue from the construction of a cell tower on campus; and higher fees for transcripts and replacement diplomas.
  • Academic Affairs will replace the Wooster Forum with a series of already endowed lectures; change the opening of the academic year celebration and faculty research luncheons; and realize some one-year savings from faculty staffing arrangements this year.
  • Athletics has restructured staffing in the fitness center and will use a single vendor for all practice uniform purchases.
  • In addition to setting an ambitious Wooster Fund goal, Development and Alumni Relations will eliminate production of a printed calendar for donors, and trim travel and other expenses.
  • Student Life will consolidate its programming efforts, eliminate professional entertainment at Family Weekend, and scale back the Ambassadors program.
  • Finance and Business has taken advantage of a retirement and a resignation in the business office to reorganize that area. It is developing ways to streamline and make more efficient our custodial and dining operations, reduce recruiting expenses, and will offer the Leadership Academy on an alternate year schedule.
  • Enrollment and College Relations changes include bringing an admissions search process previously handled by an outside vendor in house, reducing the number of issues of Wooster magazine from four to three, and eliminating printed athletics media guides.
  • Information and Planning savings took advantage of a number of open positions to provide additional professional staff support for educational applications of technology and to change its organization.  By changing how it acquires its major systems, it achieved replacement cycle plans including one for classroom media technology.  IT will work with the campus to reduce printing and copying costs as well.  Students can look forward to an on-campus computer repair service.
  • The President’s Office will reduce the number of events at the President’s Home, trim the cost of Board of Trustees meetings, and switch to recyclable gowns for commencement.

When we began our Sustainable Budget planning, we knew that our work would span more than one year. The good news is that our work going forward will not require the intensity of this year’s effort: remember, we have scores of additional, longer term ideas that we agreed we would examine and, where viable, pursue. In adopting the 2015-16 fiscal year budget, the Board asked us to continue to identify from that list a small number of the most promising ideas to analyze and implement. That process will fall largely to Cabinet with the advice of the new Strategic Planning and Priorities Advisory Committee (formerly the Financial Advisory Committee).

I have recounted these details not only to close the loop on this year’s process, but also because I believe that both the results and the process itself are further proof of the strength of the College. When we began last fall, I said that “this is hard but necessary work, and by doing it together we will build a strong foundation for Wooster’s future.”  We did just that.  Thank you.


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