I use this space in the Pulteney St. Survey to provide an update on the impact the economic downturn has had on Hobart and William Smith and the steps the Colleges have taken to address the attendant issues. Declines in the economy and stock market as well as volatility in the credit markets have had negative impacts on all of higher education. Although Hobart and William Smith are operating from a position of relative strength owing to prudent Board stewardship and several years of balanced budgets, the Colleges have not been immune to fluctuations in the global economy.
Over the course of the past fiscal year, we have instituted a number of measures to help bring expenses in line with revenue. These include reviewing open positions to see if we can delay filling them, restricting administrative travel, and acting frugally to reduce expenses. We have halted all discretionary spending unless critical to the operation of the institution and have stepped up efforts and initiatives in admissions, institutional advancement and retention to positively influence revenue. In addition, we have delayed major construction projects until fundraising goals are realized.
Our plan for the upcoming year assumes that the economic downturn will have a long term impact for the economic landscape, one that will impose significant fiscal constraints into the foreseeable future. To sustain the momentum we’ve achieved over the course of the last decade, we will need to make continued sacrifices. Fortunately, we have always been a community that can do extraordinary things with modest resources.
I have been impressed with the determination and commitment of our faculty, staff, alumni, alumnae, parents and friends, and I thank you for your continued support of these Colleges. I am also grateful to the entire senior staff who have joined me in volunteering to freeze our salaries for the upcoming year as well as to increase our contributions to The Fund for Hobart and William Smith.
Finally, I note to the HWS family the tragic loss of Hobart student Warren "Kim" Kimber IV who died in late January in Geneva. Kim was a sophomore lacrosse player with boundless energy and a rare gift for friendship. His death stunned our campus community with students, faculty and staff consoling each other and gathering at a Memorial Service in Geneva as well as with his family in New Jersey. I had the good fortune of getting to know Kim as his grandfather, Warren Kimber '56, serves on our Board of Trustees. In my remarks at the Memorial Services, I observed the impact Kim had in his short time on campus with teammates and others. He loved to compete and brought his passion for sports to the field. In his application to Hobart he wrote of the lessons of athletics going beyond the game. With maturity beyond his years, he wrote "It's not the goals scored or the games won, it's more about what you take away from the game." In reading this, I was reminded of Shakespeare's emotional lines in Henry V: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." It was clear to me that Kim thought of his teammates as his few, his happy few, his band of brothers. His classmates have honored him in the days since, and his presence is missed on campus.
Mark D. Gearan
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