Marquette Wire

MU not immune to economic struggle

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The University Academic Senate heard a presentation by John Lamb, the vice president of the office of finance, regarding Marquette’s financial standing at its monthly meeting yesterday afternoon.

Through his presentation, Lamb informed the senate of how the university’s annual budget and financial profile are prepared. He also discussed the challenges Marquette will face in the coming years.

Lamb said the recession and crumbling of the financial markets put a strain on the university. However, Marquette has not been forced to take drastic measures to balance and maintain a budget.

“We’ve fared well compared to comparable institutions,” Lamb said. “We haven’t had to cut faculty or shut down services. Protecting the infrastructure of the university has been key.”

And while the university has been fortunate to avoid layoffs, Lamb said Marquette has not gone completely unscathed by the economic downtown.

“The last two years has wreaked havoc on the economy,” Lamb said. “We’ve been affected both internally and externally.”

According to Lamb, the university has an annual operating budget of $346 million and a standing debt of $225 million. Marquette’s current endowment is $357 million. Lamb said the university’s debt is “right in the middle” when compared to similarly sized institutions.

Lamb also said the university recorded a budget surplus for the 14th straight year in the 2009-’10 school year. However, a surplus of $1 million on a $346 million budget is “cutting it close,” Lamb said.

The university is also struggling to find different sources of income. According to his presentation, net tuition and fees account for 60.7 percent of the university’s income. The second highest source was grants, accounting for 10.6 percent.

“The last couple of years have shown us to be undiversified in regards to income,” Lamb said. “We’re now dependent on tuition.”

Lamb said among the challenges facing the university, diminishing funds for building projects is at the top of the list. For example, the university has settled on building just half of the Discovery Learning Complex until more funds, other than donations, can be secured.

But the university itself is not alone in feeling the effects of the recession — Marquette’s student body is struggling, too. Lamb said that compared to three years ago, when 88 percent of students received financial assistance, the number is now around 95 percent.

Marquette alumni are also among the affected.

“Donors are becoming increasingly unable to give back,” Lamb said. “Be it trouble with their own business or the market, the number of gifts have been going down.”

Lamb said that the university will have a similar budget for the next two to three years based on the recovery of the economy and markets.

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