Board of Trustees 3/2009

March 6, 2009

Dear Members of the Trinity Community,

The Board of Trustees met on campus on February 27 and 28. Among its deliberations and actions, the Board reviewed and approved the fiscal 2010 operating budget, which goes in to effect July 1, 2009.

Before I highlight the key details of next year’s budget, I want to convey my appreciation for the work and counsel of the Planning and Budget Council, the Faculty Financial Affairs Committee, the Benefits Committee, the Exempt Staff Council and IMPACT. I also wish to extend my gratitude to Paul Mutone, Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer, and Marcia Johnson, Director of the Budget, and their staff, for extraordinary work, too.

As I outlined in my January 29 letter to the campus community, and in the three subsequent public presentations, our budget preparation is motivated by three central ambitions:

  • Trinity must protect as many present students and their families as possible;

  • Trinity must protect the academic mission of the College; and

  • Trinity must live within the College’s financial means.

Reflecting these critical goals, the Board of Trustees approved the FY 2010 budget of $112.34 million, a 1.15 percent increase over the present year’s budget. The new budget assumes an on-campus enrollment of 2,075 undergraduates and an entering class of 570 members of the Class of 2013. It also assumes an increase of 5.5 percent in tuition and fees, plus a modest increase for cable TV services in the student common areas. Details of those charges are being conveyed immediately to undergraduate parents.

Acknowledging our first priority to protect present students and their families, we have increased the financial aid budget by 9 percent ($2.5 million). Next year, Trinity will invest over $30 million in financial aid for our students. Despite the evident budgetary pressures being felt, the College will continue to sustain 38 percent of the student body receiving aid.

In the areas of salaries and benefits, the Trustees approved the following for fiscal 2010:

  • There will be a 3 percent increase for salaries under $75,000.

  • There will be a 2 percent increase for salaries over $75,000, but no increases for the College’s five highest salaried employees.

  • The yearly pension contribution from the College will be reduced to 9.5 percent, from a previous level of 10 percent.

  • As a part of the salary increase pool mentioned above, there will be some parity adjustments totaling $75,000.

  • The health insurance premium cost share by employees will increase from 25 percent to 27.5 percent. 

  • Salary increases, as always, will be subject to satisfactory work performance.

  • Decisions about next year’s benefits will be revisited yearly; however, they will remain in place until the overall budget condition sees clear improvement.

In addition to these outcomes, we have been required to make several other difficult choices. We will sustain the 5 percent reduction in operating budgets implemented this year, and require an additional $700,000 in new cuts, which will be assigned to each budget area of the College. We are forced as well to reduce such areas as overtime and temporary help, plant upkeep and information technology capital improvements.

Given the unknowns of enrollment management and what may be unanticipated financial aid needs, this budget sustains and augments a special enrollment reserve of $1 million to protect our students and the College against an unpredictable future.

We will continue to depend on the Trinity Fund for roughly 8 percent of next year’s operating budget, with the budget calling for a new increased goal in FY 2010. We remain grateful to our alumni, parents and friends for continuing to invest in Trinity and its many excellences.

While next year’s budget is now finalized, the focus must now shift to subsequent-year budget preparations. Anticipating that income from Trinity’s endowment will decline significantly in FY 2011 and FY 2012, Vice President Mutone and his team, and the various campus committees that have been engaged in the 2010 budget preparation, will now have to turn their attention to the more difficult financial challenges that will come later, but which are unavoidable and must be addressed immediately. The Trustees have asked that a preliminary report on future budgets be presented at their May 2009 meeting. Like me, the Trustees are very aware that the College will find it necessary to evaluate challenging choices, given the economic stresses so prevalent today in America. We will continue to be guided by the three principles I expressed earlier.

As always, I will continue to communicate plans and progress on a timely basis. I can assure you that we are doing everything possible to protect and secure the quality of this great College. I am grateful to each of you for your own contributions to that quality, and for your support for the decisions just made and those more difficult choices we will be obligated to make in the future.

Sincerely,

James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities