To say that we live in interesting times is a grand understatement. We confront the pain of the most severe economic crisis in recent decades as we simultaneously celebrate the inauguration of President Obama and the hope and promise that has brought. Both of these realities have had a direct impact on our College.
This year we—like other non-profit organizations—are facing the impact of a serious decline in the value of our endowment, which lost about 20% between June and December 2008. Consequently, we are unable to use any of the funds usually drawn from endowment to support scholarships, library purchases, faculty and staff development and other on-going needs. These things are so essential to the operation of the College that we are continuing them without endowment support. In addition, the recession has slowed the flow of funds from major donors. I thank all of you for continuing with your Annual Fund support and extend special gratitude to those who have made second gifts this year. Your support means everything to us.
Using a process that reflects our commitment to inclusive leadership and social responsibility, a task force of faculty and staff, informed by many suggestions from the community, has worked during the past several months to help us come to terms with the economic reality. Our employees have responded with self-sacrifice that comes from their faith in this institution and dedication to our students. Employees have taken a cut in their pay, with those making more giving back more. The College has also suspended contributions to retirement funds. Expenses were cut only in areas that do not impact student learning. In spite of these measures, there is a spirit of optimism on campus that together we will weather this storm, and, as we approach our 100th anniversary, we will emerge even stronger and more committed to our mission.
Our spirits are raised in part by the positive impact on campus of a non-taxable bond we were able to obtain this summer. Bond funds have allowed us to pay attention to some deferred maintenance issues in our residence halls; purchase new furniture; replace floors, gutters and roofs; renovate the Ann Pappajohn Vassiliou Child Study Center so it can accommodate more children; redesign the dining hall; purchase a new shuttle; and, in partnership with Citizens Energy, embark on serious energy conservation measures. While restoring our campus this year, we have been in discussions with several educational institutions about their space and facility needs. We have found a wonderful partner in The New England Institute of Art, whose first and second year students are living on our campus and with whom we are sharing courses and developing opportunities for our students. We are also exploring enhancement of our athletic facilities through partnerships with other schools. So in spite of the tightness of the economy, Pine Manor is well positioned with our beautiful 60-acre campus to take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with others to the benefit of our College.
I was privileged to watch the inauguration of President Obama with our students. It was a memorable event as we recognized that the values of our College have taken on national and international importance. I believe that students are more determined than ever to collaborate with others to achieve our common good. They look to us to provide them with the knowledge and skills to make their contribution to our world, and it is our honor to work with them and with you toward that goal.
With best wishes,
Tue, March 3, 2009