EXCLUSIVE: Big changes on the syllabus at Xavier
EXCLUSIVE: Big changes on the syllabus at Xavier
By Cliff Peale
Mar 6, 2013 12:38 AM
The Enquirer/Taylor Norton
Xavier University plans a $100 million capital campaign, which would include plans to demolish Alter Hall, the largest instruction building on campus. It is too old to be renovated.
Seeking to reshape an increasingly uncertain academic and financial future, Xavier University will try everything from a capital campaign of as much as $140 million to a new College of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
There also could be a new pledge from Xavier to students: "To develop their values and character, deliver an excellent education, and guarantee placement in their career or next educational step."
Draft plans circulating around the Evanston campus this week show that XU's board and top administrators are serious when they talk about doing things differently.
"The business model across higher education is not sustainable," said Scott Chadwick, Xavier's provost, or top academic officer. "That requires us to figure out how to help students learn differently at lower cost."
XU will run an operating deficit of about $5 million this year. It discounts freshman tuition by 47.5 percent to keep itself affordable, and can't afford any further tuition breaks.
It also has built up debt of close to $200 million rebuilding its campus during the last five years and needs to spend about $12 million a year to maintain and renovate existing buildings.
"We have a good foundation," said Beth Amyot, XU's chief financial officer. "Even thought it's not an emergency, we do need to have a sense of urgency."
"I think we need to make choices that we haven't had to make before."
Universities across the country are struggling with similar financial woes, and the plans are Xavier's attempt to chart its own future before students and families start abandoning it for less expensive options.
Those changes are particularly difficult on college campuses, said Kate Fenner, a consultant at Downtown-based Compass Higher Education.
"There's a whole culture that's based on a respect for how we've always done things," Fenner said. "It's very difficult when you want to push change in a culture like that."
Groups of students and employees will discuss the plans at open forums this month, including one today. Xavier hopes to polish off a final version this spring.
It appears inevitable that the final plan will include:
* A new fundraising campaign. Having completed a $206 million campaign in 2011, Xavier will probably start another campaign to raise $100 million for the endowment - most for scholarships - and $40 million for new buildings, according to the plans.
* A new austerity. A pool for employee merit raises would not be tapped until January 2014, and any new employees would probably be funded by eliminating existing jobs.
The plans predict a raft of cost-cutting measures without identifying any specifics. Chadwick and Amyot said no specific academic programs have been targeted so far for closure.
"We recognize that while ideas for programs of all sorts are unlimited, our resources are not," the financial plan said. "In defining certain strategies for investment, other programs may be scaled back, eliminated or not started."
Alter Hall, Xavier's main classroom building, will have to be renovated using internal funds. Xavier has said for several years that Alter will need to be renovated or razed and replaced.
* More students. With about 7,000 students now, Xavier has recruited two of its biggest-ever classes during the last four years, but new growth won't come from bigger freshman classes, Chadwick said.
Instead, XU hopes to double the number of veterans enrolled to about 300, recruit more students from such markets as Atlanta, Kansas City and Minneapolis, and increase both international students and transfer students.
* A bigger campus. The financial plan says Xavier will try to finance a new Allied Health Professions building, probably just east of the Williams College of Business along Dana Avenue, and a new recreation center, probably located in the new multiuse development closer to Montgomery Road. The current rec center is off Victory Parkway, on the west side of campus.
* A new learning model. The new College of Innovation and Entrepreneurship could be "a safe space to test ideas, to play with ideas and to bring new things to the market," Chadwick said.
It's unlikely that current academic departments would be moved into the new college, but they could use it as a laboratory, he said.
* A promise to students. The pledge idea is a bold one in academic circles, but Chadwick said it's the same concept as a car dealer offering a warranty with a new car.
"You see it in every other industry," he said. "We know the process. We will pledge to hold up our end of that process and give them that learning and developmental environment."
Xavier student body president Seth Walsh, a senior from Michigan, gives the university credit for trying.
"I'm not sure anyone really knows what the times are in terms of academics anymore," Walsh said. "Every generation learns in a different way. I think the fact they're taking proactive steps will keep them as close to current as any college can be."
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Thread: Is Xavier broke?
03-06-2013, 12:39 AM #1
Is Xavier broke?
03-06-2013, 06:28 AM #2
Not broke, but this year has been a more challenging one.
The "debt" of $200 million noted in the article is not accurrate. The new fundraiser is to increase the endowment and, hopefully, get a rec center on the north side of campus.
The school can always use more money, though. I'm going to a meeting on the 18th.SHOCK THE WORLD!!!
03-06-2013, 06:37 AM #3
That article was definitely a little concerning. The good news is that it sounds like Xavier is trying to be proactive.
College costs too much money right now. This is particularly true of Private schools, including Xavier. Universities have to find a way to deliver better value for students. $40K per year is way too much for school.Eat Donuts!
03-06-2013, 07:10 AM #4
03-06-2013, 07:14 AM #5
Xavier isn't broke, but they're starting to recognize that the current "college model" in the United States -- where 18 year old kids go deeply into debt by borrowing tons of government-guaranteed, non-bankruptcy dischargable money -- is going to come to a halt in the very near future. Colleges are going to need to change the way they do business, and those that aren't prepared for a new reality are going to be get hit with a very serious wake-up call.
If Xavier wants to remain competitive long-term, they need to change a few things that this article addresses:
1.) Increasing the endowment. Xavier's endowment is currently around $120m, and that's just not going to cut it in a future where schools will need to compete on price for students. If you have to be competitive with tuition, a strong endowment is the only way to guarantee funding levels.
2.) Increasing the enrollment. Put economies of scale to work and increase the number of people you're serving to increase revenue. They'll also benefit from more on-campus students as well, and I'll bet the next major announcement is construction of more living space for students.
3.) Get used to austerity now. College professor salaries are already bloated and unsustainable, and the entire industry should get used to the idea that pay raises aren't a guarantee no matter how qualified you are how good you are at your job.
03-06-2013, 07:47 AM #6
I am a little surprised that other Universities have not yet begun to address this.
As far as point number 2 goes, a successful basketball program in a great conference is an effective marketing tool for recruiting more students nationally.#XIPEMUP
03-06-2013, 08:07 AM #7"I can guarantee you're going to have to cut our hearts out of our chest for us to go down." - Chris Mack
03-06-2013, 08:08 AM #8
Not too sure about any more dorm construction. Fenwick will be the last for a while.
Getting more students can be accomplished by the on-line and branch campus concept as well. Not as cool as a bunch of kids walking all over the grounds, but it's $$$$$.SHOCK THE WORLD!!!
03-06-2013, 09:10 AM #9
College used to be something that only the privilaged class had widespread access to. Then we found ways to make college affordable for a wide variety of people and far more middle class kids started going to Universities. Over the last 10-15 years, due in no small part to government intervention that made student loans far too easy to get, College is getting very expensive again. At some point we are going to reach an inflection point in which more kids decide not to go to College.
I think Xavier was around $25K per year when I started undergrad in 2000. Now I believe we are up over $40K. I was very fortunate to have parents that paid for my undergrad and companies that paid for my MBA, so my personal out of pocket costs for both of my degrees was like $10K. If I hadn't had those opportunities I don't think I could have attended Xavier, or any private school.Eat Donuts!
03-06-2013, 09:16 AM #10
If you want a prime example of why college is so expensive, read xudash's thread about returning from Mecca. The "arms race" with respect to college facilities is astounding. I graduated from Xavier in 1998, and I never lived in a place, took a class in a place, or ate an on-campus meal at a place that didn't kind of suck, to tell you the truth. But I loved it all. All the new, nice facilities on campus? Incredibly expensive and unnecessary.
The problem, of course, is that everyone else is doing the same thing, so you've go to keep up with the Joneses if you're gonna recruit. But it's a killer on tuition.