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Jenkins: University is fiscally stable

Aaron Steiner | Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Despite the dismal state of and bleak outlook for the national economy, University President Fr. John Jenkins wrote to faculty and staff Tuesday to again emphasize that Notre Dame, while “not immune to economic pressures,” is well-positioned to continue progress “toward our goal of becoming a preeminent research university.”

The e-mail, dated Feb. 10, is the second such message Jenkins has sent regarding the economy and its potential effect on the University. The first e-mail was sent Dec. 1, 2008.

Jenkins said the University has been more fortunate than other colleges and institutions.

“Unlike some of our peers, at this point Notre Dame does not face the need to freeze salaries or hiring, halt construction or reduce our work force,” he said.

“While our endowment and other revenue streams have experienced losses, we continue to be positioned, at this juncture, to pursue opportunities toward our goal of becoming a preeminent research university,” Jenkins wrote.

Still, Jenkins said that the University may need to consider additional action if the situation worsens.

“We are not immune to economic pressures and further dramatic declines could lead us to rethink our timelines on construction projects and prepare new strategies in regard to salaries, hiring and the work force,” he said.

The e-mail came after the Board of Trustees approved the budget for the fiscal year 2010, which Jenkins wrote includes “modest but cautious growth” of 5.7 percent over the current budget.

Jenkins said the budget reflects increased funding for the following areas: undergraduate and graduate studies; research and scholarly initiatives, including the equipment and library resources they require; and faculty and staff.

The message did note that the administration will continue to call for fiscal restraint within all areas of the University.

“Your divisional and departmental leaders have been asked to consider further means of conserving our resources,” Jenkins said.

University Provost Tom Burish and Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves will further explain the University’s fiscal situation to faculty and staff in scheduled remarks and meetings, he also wrote.

Jenkins concluded the e-mail writing that he has been “impressed and heartened by the willingness of the University family to be part of the solution” required to address economic concerns.

“Your extreme generosity in the recent United Way campaign and food drives reinforces for me how deeply committed you are to Notre Dame’s mission of service,” he said. “Your willingness to participate in wellness initiatives has helped turn back rising health care benefit costs. Your enthusiasm to adopt measures of energy efficiency promises further savings.”

Jenkins also said he would continue to provide incremental updates to faculty and staff regarding economic and fiscal issues.