The 2011 President’s Report, released by the College of William and Mary administration Nov. 8, lauded the accomplishments of students and faculty while also highlighting the challenges that the College faces in the near future.
In the opening message, entitled “State of the University,” College President Taylor Reveley struck a positive tone regarding recent developments at the College, including the achievements of students and alumni, faculty research and the expansion of the College in both population and educational reach.
“I believe this century is going to be the best in the College’s long life,” Reveley said. “The main reason for optimism is our people … and the pervasive sense that what we are doing at the College is vitally important, that we are changing lives for the better, that we are developing bold, creative, imaginative leaders who will make a difference no matter what field they enter.”
The financial section, which addressed the College’s budgetary constraints, was perhaps the most significant. State support has dwindled from 27.8 percent in 2000 to 14.8 percent in 2011, and the trend shows no sign of stopping.
“I don’t think it’s because the state puts a low priority on higher education,” James Golden, the College’s vice president for strategic initiatives, said. “I talked to the leaders in Virginia, and the governor has expressed this directly, that they understand the important role of higher education and would like to do more to support it. But you also have to face the fiscal reality, that there will be continuing demands on the state … to provide services that are becoming more and more expensive and absolutely essential.”
The College’s budget has become a serious issue in the past few years, with the reduction in state support offset by increases in student tuition and salary freezes for faculty and staff. Privatizing the College is one of many options thrown around to alleviate the financial situation.
“The short is answer is ‘absolutely no’,” Golden said in regard to privatization. “We all recognize the important place that William and Mary plays in the system of higher education in Virginia, and we welcome the role that we play as a public university. There are a spectrum of schools that have different functions within the system, and we think our special niche is to provide in Virginia access to Ivy League-quality education, in the context of a liberal arts school, an all-residential campus, [and] a solid ratio of students to instructors and professors.”
Golden cited the capital support provided by the state in the renovation of campus buildings such as St. George Tucker Hall, as well as the recent construction of the School of Education, as key benefits of remaining a public university.
The report also showed that the revenue the College received through its funding sources increased by over $19 million from 2010 to 2011, while total expenses increased by a smaller margin of just over $6 million. Expenses devoted to student financial aid fell during that period from $21.1 million to $12.8 million, raising questions as to how the College can continue to attract the best and brightest students from a variety of backgrounds.
“Our top priority going forward for this next biennium on to the next six years is to move our salary levels up to the point where we can continue to attract the outstanding faculty and staff that we need,” Golden said. “Costs are going to be driven primarily on the salary side, that is going to mean some tuition adjustments, and as we do that we’re going to have to make sure that we continue to provide access to students based on their need and make sure that we meet all of the established need for in-state students.”
The report also mentioned the College’s high rankings for undergraduate education, improvements to campus facilities, the numerous accolades and awards College faculty have received in their respective fields, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships Tribe athletic teams have won, and the response of the College community to events at home and around the world.