Simpson remains strong

Simpson remains strong

by Simpson College President John Byrd

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with the faculty, administration and staff to update them on our efforts to develop a budget for the upcoming year that responds to the unexpected dip in enrollment that we experienced last fall, and to outline a number of new initiatives at Simpson.

Everyone on campus has done a wonderful job of pulling together in developing programs and activities that will have a positive impact on future enrollments. Those activities are already showing encouraging results.

Spring new-student enrollments are up sharply over a year ago, spring to fall retention for new freshmen is running at near an all-time high, and a number of new academic programs and offerings are making Simpson more competitive than ever. With applications and campus visits up substantially for the fall freshman class, I am convinced that Simpson’s enrollment will rebound.

While our efforts are producing positive results, we will still need to reduce the size of Simpson’s budget for the 2012-2013 year. Unfortunately, the small freshman class of last fall will become the smaller sophomore class next fall and that, of course, will lead to lower revenues for the coming year.

In order to balance the budget, we reluctantly concluded that a reduction in force was necessary. No one likes to cut positions, but that is what healthy organizations do when lower revenues require that they take action.

The decisions about what positions would be impacted were made with much thought and input. A committee of faculty representatives along with the Cabinet has been working for a number of weeks on these issues.

The choices that were made had absolutely no reflection on the performance of those individuals affected. They are all quality people or they wouldn’t have been at Simpson to begin with. It is a regrettable financial reality – one that we share with many other businesses and organizations around the country – and we will do everything possible to help these individuals move ahead.

Fortunately, our current budget model shows that with these adjustments and even a modest rebound in enrollment, we are able to project balanced budgets into the foreseeable future.

Even during this challenging time, Simpson remains financially strong and well positioned for the future. We do not carry a lot of debt, and our fundraising efforts continue to be strong, allowing us to embark on projects like the Kent Campus Center, the Cowles renovation and a new academic building that will help the college remain competitive in attracting new students and better serving those here now.

I have great trust in and respect for the faculty, staff, students and administration at Simpson College, which is why I have been transparent throughout this process. I welcome questions and input. My door is always open.