In the course of a single day in March, our hilltop campus experienced snow, sleet, hail, rain, blustery winds, dense fog, and brilliant sunshine. Now, Oregon weather is known for its changeability, but this was one for the record books! As I ventured out for lunch at the Trail Room–bracing for anything the skies might send my way–my thoughts turned to the fluctuations in the global economy and to the myriad creative ways in which Lewis & Clark is responding to the world economic crisis. Although we cannot know what is coming next, I take comfort in my conviction that our community has the resources to weather the storm.
I am speaking here of our fiscal resources, to be sure, but I also have in mind our human capital. Consider the human capital of department chairs and managers across our institution. Because of their vigorous efforts, our budget for the next academic year–amounting to more than $125 million–contains mechanisms to help us maintain fiscal stability even as we safeguard the excellence of our academic programs. Consider the quality of our distinctive faculty and the demanding courses they teach, the collaborative research they conduct, and the innovative programs they lead. Consider as well the extraordinary students we attract. Our academic quality is the surest guarantee that applications for admission remain robust in all three schools.
At Lewis & Clark, we are diligent in managing our fiscal assets precisely because we are first and foremost an academic community, dedicated to the highest standard of excellence. In compiling the 2009–10 academic year budget, the question before us was not, “What can we cut?” but instead, “What must we safeguard?”
The answer is clear: We will not compromise the integrity, depth, or breadth of the educational experience we provide. We will never abandon our passion for exploration and discovery, nor will we forsake our commitment to developing students who are critical thinkers and global citizens dedicated to the public good. To do so would betray the legacy of the generations that came before us, would abrogate the compact we make with students and parents, and would belie our own trust and confidence in the future. Accordingly, our budget preserves every academic program at Lewis & Clark and funds every cocurricular and extracurricular activity that currently enlivens the campus.
Even as it sustains existing programs, our 2009–10 budget contains some very positive changes. We are affirming the primacy of students at Lewis & Clark by allocating an additional $2.2 million in financial aid. In addition to this 9.5 percent increase, we are bolstering student employment dollars by 7 percent. Meanwhile, we are keeping tuition increases to their lowest levels in many years.
The budget also reflects our capacity as a community that shares sacrifice. While we are providing modest salary adjustments for faculty and staff, we will postpone implementing them until we have met our targets for funding all academic and student-life programs. We are truly in this together.
This collegiality drives other initiatives. Responding to a 30 percent drop in our endowment and to reductions in income from foundation grants, we are strengthening fund-raising efforts, with particular emphasis on the Annual Fund. As our philanthropic cornerstone, the Annual Fund provides immediate support to the operating budget and the flexibility to direct resources to our areas of highest priority and greatest need. I am heartened that alumni and friends are responding with increased participation over last year. For this sustaining level of support, I am truly grateful.
Compared to many other institutions, Lewis & Clark is in an enviable position. The reasons go beyond balance sheets and reveal our true wealth: the commitment and capacity of our community to provide our students the best possible educational experience. We maintain this resolve despite the uncertainties imposed by the economy. Facing limitations, we are more determined than ever to raise the standard of our educational programs. Even as Palatine Hill’s spring storms swirl around us, we are secure in our conviction that Lewis & Clark will emerge from the current economic turmoil stronger than ever.
As always, thank you for all you do for Lewis & Clark.
Thomas J. Hochstettler