To the Marietta College Comunity:
A few weeks back, Jeff Welch, Chief Financial Officer for the College, shared a clear-eyed, no-nonsense message about the state of our finances: This year will be tough, but with focused effort and a bit of luck, next year can be better. Both parts of the message are true, and both are important.
Today, I have another two-part message: We received some good news in last week’s Census. But that doesn’t mean our challenges have disappeared.
First, the good news.
Regardless of those challenges, I want to take a minute to celebrate some favorable numbers from the annual Census:
- Full-time enrollment is 1,027 — 13 more than we budgeted for.
- The tuition discount rate is 71% — higher than we want it to be, but still one percentage point lower than budgeted, and that translates to $200,000 more in tuition revenue.
- The freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 65% also beat our projection of 62%.
All of this is good news academically, because it indicates students’ desire to come to Marietta and to stay here. It also is great news financially, for the increased revenue it represents. Jeff wrote last month that, based on our projections, we needed to trim $2.5 million from the 2022-23 budget. The strong Census showing moved us closer to that goal by $700,000. No one thinks making $1.8 million in budget reductions will be easy, but it is far preferable to $2.5 million.
Now, we work to gain more ground.
I give my sincere thanks to everyone who helped make that happen: Admission staff who secured new enrollments; faculty and staff who made students feel welcome and helped them succeed; coaches who recruited with persistence.
But to become financially secure, we need to do better on all fronts, keeping recruitment and retention top of mind even as we look for ways to spend less. We need to see the numbers rise year over year.
A word about spending less: It does not mean going without goods or services we need to preserve the quality of the student experience. If we need it, we will buy it.
It does, however, mean thinking anew about how we do our jobs and looking for ways to accomplish the same ends with less spending. As Jeff said in his message, the sooner we make changes to cut our current spending, the better off we will be.
Happily, the other side of rebuilding our financial strength — recruiting and retaining more students and developing academic programs that are in high demand — are positive actions that get at why we all chose to work in higher education. We value the intellectual, personal and social growth that young adults experience through colleges like Marietta. We want to prepare them for satisfying lives and careers, which also benefits our community and state.
As we work together to carry out the ideas in the strategic plan, I am confident we can accomplish these things and put Marietta College in a better position for the 2023-24 academic year.
Bring Forth a Pioneer!
President and Professor of Management