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Cervelli hosts third College Assembly on Saint Mary’s finances, enrollment

| Monday, April 9, 2018

Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli hosted the third College Assembly on Friday on to discuss its financial status, enrollment numbers and strategic plan.

The assemblies focus on addressing some of the issues and concerns at the College, and all faculty, staff and students may attend.

Cervelli spoke about her recent experience spending the night in McCandless Hall with first-year students to hear about their college experience so far.

“What I hear through that experience is the love they have for [the faculty],” Cervelli said. “They also talk about the housekeeping staff and how friendly they are. The food service, the grounds service, the campus ministry … each and every one of you make a difference with students.”

Cervelli also spoke on the College’s budget and financial status. Cervelli said the College’s deficit mainly comes from larger healthcare costs.

“The health insurance here at Saint Mary’s is considered generous compared to other institutions,” Cervelli said. “That is intentional. That is part of our values. It will be a challenge maintaining that going forward.”

Cervelli said the College is looking into changing healthcare providers and is talking to several different potential providers, and said one option is polling healthcare with other institutions.

Cervelli also said next year’s fiscal budget will be finalized in October. The College normally decides on the upcoming budget in April, but then makes adjustments based on how many students actually enroll for the fall. Cervelli said she thinks this new approach will mean less adjustments and confusion.

Cervelli said she hopes the College can use creative thinking to bring in new revenue to the College.

“We’re pretty good at budget cutting here, but that’s only half the equation,” Cervelli said. “Generation of revenue is the other half. We have creative minds here who can help us generate new revenue. … I want us to become a superb entrepreneurial college.”

Mona Bowe, vice president of Enrollment Management, gave an update on enrollment. So far, the College has received 1,844 first-year applications for the upcoming academic year. 1,500 students have been admitted, and 221 have made their deposit and committed to the College. This is 27 more applications than last year, Bowe said.

“Every interaction you have with a student can make it or break it,” she said. “Over 1,100 admitted students are yet to make a decision. [Our office does] everything we can to help our students make a decision.”

Bowe also provided an update on graduate school applications. So far, 10 applications for graduate programs have been submitted, with five students admitted and two deposited.  

Karen Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs, provided an update on retention. The College has lost 13 first-year students since the beginning of the academic year. Nine of those students transferred out of the College.

Cervelli said Saint Mary’s values each of its members.

“Every student counts,” she said. “They count coming in the door and they count all the way through the experience. They count for the quality they bring to the College, and, as a tuition-dependent institution, our ability to meet our mission.”

Cervelli announced two new appointments to the College. Todd Norris accepted the position of chief information officer after serving as the interim officer for nine months.

Dr. Michael Fleming accepted the director of institutional research position, and he will direct all assessment activities at the College.

Nancy Nekvasil, senior vice president of academic affairs, provided an update on her department. Nekvasil said she hopes programs such as summer learning can be modified to help generate more revenue for the College, such as by offering courses for nontraditional students.

The College has also added additional weeks and raised the price for summer camps to raise revenue, Judy Fean, vice president for mission, said.

George Keegan, special assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, said a draft of the Strategic Plan will be sent to the College community next week and that feedback will be needed and appreciated.

Cervelli said the College would begin to finalize the plan during the summer but continue to evaluate it as necessary.

“The board will approve a kick-off plan in June, but this a continuous process,” Cervelli said. “We’ll be having this conversation every year as we see trends and changes to accommodate that.”

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