With a new academic year looming, Seton Hall finds itself in the center of a current budget crisis.
The Setonian reported in June that 26 non-faculty employees were eliminated due to Seton Hall’s budget crisis. While this elimination was necessary in balancing the university budget, according to Msgr. Sheeran, Seton Hall is still trying to gain as much revenue as possible.
“After several years of declining revenue and the difficulties in the economy, the University has found it necessary to reduce expenses, including personnel, to avoid passing on the increase in tuition,” Dennis Garbini, Vice President for Finance & Technology said. “Simultaneously, the University continues to explore opportunities to ensure the appropriate budget allocations, to reduce expenses and to increase revenues in order to maintain and improve academics and services on campus and beyond.”
One way revenue is being brought in is through enrollment services.
“Achieving admissions goals this year is an important step towards maintaining a solid fiscal foundation for the University,” Garbini said.
This year Seton Hall has accepted around 200 more students than last year leading to a freshmen class size of around 1,325 to 1,330, said Tracey Gottlieb, associate Provost and Dean for Enrollment Management and Freshmen Studies.
According to Jamie De Leon, Associate Director of Admissions, the goal has always been around 1,200 students. One reason this year’s class size may be bigger is due to an increase in awarded grants. “In 2009 we gave out less scholarship money than this year,” De Leon said.
However, Gottlieb said giving out more grant money is not a negative thing. “It’s not like we have this pot of money just sitting here,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb explained the grant money is more of a “discount rate” and by giving more discounts on tuition Seton Hall was actually bringing in more revenue. “We have a larger freshmen class so that means more revenue,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb did not ignore the fact that having a larger freshmen class meant needing more sections of classes and having a more crowded campus, but she called this a “happy problem.” According to Gottlieb, the motto of enrollment is to focus on how much revenue they are bringing in for the school.
Gottlieb said Seton Hall was looking into more ways to conserve money such as looking into cutting costs through different vendors with which they do business, as well as making some changes in her own department in order to conserve money.
Garbini explained Seton Hall leadership is “dedicated to continuing to work towards ensuring that all aspects of the University are not only secure, but also positioned for growth.”
Seton Hall’s financial dilemma has raised some question in terms of this growth in fundraising.
According to Pamela Ferguson, Associate Vice President for Development, Seton Hall has improved its fundraising this year and has helped gain more revenue for the University.
Seton Hall had one of the lowest giving rates among alumni compared to other schools in the Big East. Ferguson said Seton Hall had an 8 percent giving rate in 2009 and increased that rate to 8.5 percent this year. “Our goal is to continue to increase alumni participation by 1 percent each year,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the Office of Advancement is concentrating on improving Seton Hall’s relationships with its donors as well as building a solid relationship with current students.
“We are making sure that the relationship with a donor is life-long and we appropriately acknowledge them,” Ferguson said.
Other steps the Office of Advancement is taking to help improve fundraising is focusing on areas that will help the University, according to Ferguson. For instance, fundraisers are focused on raising expendable scholarship funding.
Ferguson said the department has been feeling the economic climate for a couple years now. “Our donors have been telling us about their own economical struggles,” she said.
Ferguson said it is important for the current student body to understand that many of the resources at Seton Hall are available because of the generosity of alumni who came before them.
“Once you step onto Seton Hall campus as a freshmen you are beginning a lifelong relationship with her; you become part of that legacy,” Ferguson said.
The Office of Advancement also works on larger fundraising campaigns. In 2008 they completed an Ever Forward campaign that raised $152 million dollars. Ferguson said they are currently laying the ground work for the next campaign
Carolyn Maso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org