College finalizes budget for fiscal year 2015

Faculty, administrative salaries to increase by 1.6, 1.5 percent respectively


Staff Writer

The Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the College’s operating and capital budget for the 2015 fiscal year during meetings on April 24 and 25 and announced the budget on May 5.

The budget decision was developed by the Provost’s Budget Committee (PBC) and guided by recommendations from the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC). Provost Andrew Shennan, vice president for finance and administration Ben Hammond, dean of students Debra DeMeis and assistant provost for academic budget and planning Mary Pat Navins make up the PBC while the BAC is comprised of 18 members from the administration, faculty and student body. The BAC reviews aspects of the College’s operating budget, proposes budgets for each fiscal year and creates five year projected budget plans. The committee has the authority to investigate specific aspects of the budget and recommend changes. The PBC reviewed the BAC’s recommendations to create its annual budget proposal which was ultimately approved by the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The budget totals $203 million dollars, a 1.3 percent increase from last year. The principal sources of income for the college will be endowment revenues and student tuition and fees. The College will continue to pull funds from the endowment in order to balance the budget. This year, the amount removed from the endowment will increase by 0.6 percent, which is a decline from previous years. Removing money from the endowment is expensive due to the loss in future revenue the money could have generated if it remained part of the endowment. By 2018, endowment spending as a part of the operating budget is projected to decrease by $4 million. The BAC will continue to investigate the issue of endowment spending and the Board of Trustees’ new policy in coming years. Shennan and Hammond explain in their announcement why the college intends to decrease the rate at which money is siphoned from the endowment.

“This new policy has the effect of slowing the rate at which endowment support to the operating budget increases, with the goal of better preserving the purchasing power of our endowment for future generations of Wellesley students,” the announcement reads.

This year, the BAC’s discussion focused on rebalancing the operating budget to fund campus maintenance and renovation projects, including Campus Renewal.

“The funding plan requires significant reductions in other areas of spending, reductions that we will feel more sharply next year,” the report read.

Specifically, the committee addressed student fees and spending cuts. The Board of Trustees has approved the BAC’s proposed 3.5 percent increase in comprehensive student fees for next year, which was announced earlier this semester. However, the increase in tuition fees is accompanied by an increase of 4.9 percent for financial aid, yielding a 2.1 percent increase in college revenue from student fees.

Spending cuts for next year will include reduced personnel and non-personnel spending, including a gradual decrease in the number of tenure-track faculty members over the next three years. According to the announcement, average base salaries for faculty members will increase by 1.6 percent next year, while average base salaries for administrative staff members will increase by 1.5 percent. Salary increases will be comparatively smaller for full professors and larger for assistant and associate professors. The college plans to decrease faculty salaries by $3.5 million and administrative salaries by $3 million by fiscal year 2018.

Michelle Ahn ’15, a student representative on the BAC, maintains that the budget cuts will not have a significant direct effect on student life next year.

“Most of the cuts, like reduced department money and professor salary, will affect students indirectly,” Ahn said.

The budget sets aside $12.6 million for maintenance and renewal. $5.2 million of the maintenance budget will go towards regular maintenance and upkeep of campus buildings and grounds, $572,000 will go towards capital maintenance and $6.8 will be spent on Wellesley 2025 Campus Renewal projects. This years maintenance and renewal budget is 43 percent greater than this year’s budget of $8.8 million.

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