On Wednesday, April 5th, the Goucher Student Government (GSG) held a Budget Update in an attempt to inform students about the college’s budget and where their money is going. Both GSG and the administration have been making efforts to increase transparency and communication between students and the administration.
In July 2016, Goucher College hired Malcolm Green-Haynes as Director of Budget and Financial Planning, creating a position that did not previously exist. While Goucher had, more or less, been financially operating on a “one-day-at-a-time” framework, Green-Haynes is now looking a year ahead, planning next year’s budget. Part of his job involves looking at more long-term strategies for the college’s financial stability and success. Green-Haynes also serves a strategic role as a point person between the Vice Presidents and Senior staff who make budget decisions, and the functional units of the college, such as academic departments, athletics, co-curricular centers, the library, etc. Green-Haynes communicates with each area to see what sort of funding they have had in the past and what they will need in the future. While this type of communication has existed in previous years, it may not have been happening in the same “holistic” and “systematic fashion” said Green-Haynes.
Green-Haynes is very open to talking to students about the budget and hopes to clear up any misconceptions there might be.
“Let’s do a little Budget 101,” he said, when interviewed for this article.
Goucher currently has two budgets–an operating budget and a capital budget. The Operating Budget, at about $65 million, goes toward the day-to-day operating costs that keep the college running: paying for electricity, people to cut the grass, microscopes for the biology department, uniforms for the lacrosse team, etc. The money for the operating budget comes from tuition, room and board, as well as some state assistance and miscellaneous business activities (for example, renting out Kraushaar Auditorium to outside groups). The administration is trying to increase these miscellaneous business activities in the coming years, in order to increase the operating budget but avoid increasing the cost of tuition, or room and board. Freezing the tuition this year was already a big step, a demonstration, Green-Haynes said, that “this administration is committed to accessibility and affordability.” However, the administration was unable to hold the line on room and board “because that would’ve meant pretty significant reductions in expenses, all in the same year,” said Green-Haynes.
Goucher’s other budget, the Capital Budget, goes toward large expenses and fixed assets: buildings, land, large equipment, IT infrastructure, etc. This budget, at about $36.1 million for the upcoming year, is financed by debt and philanthropic support. The Capital Budget currently funds the construction projects. Revenue for these projects comes largely from specific campaigns for alumni donations with the stated purpose of generating money for construction projects. Alumni support for the Capital Budget will not roll over to the operating budget once construction projects are finished, because the fundraising campaigns focus on construction.
“The fundraising base is fairly limited, so once that’s over, it’s over,” said Green-Haynes. However, he also states that there is an alumni support base in the operating budget, consisting of about $2 million.
There have been no major changes in the budget that will directly affect students, faculty, or staff. In fact, the budget for faculty is growing significantly, due in part to the creation of the new centers and the need for new faculty to teach particular classes.
The college also has an endowment of about $200 million. However, rather than dipping into the endowment for large projects, it makes more sense, financially, for Goucher to secure more debt.
“Debt is part of the business portfolio,” said Green-Haynes. “It is necessary to finance these projects to make Goucher more attractive and more modern, for prospective students, and current students.”
For more information
Members of faculty and staff managing expenses are able to view the budget in real time. The budget is not available to the wider Goucher community, most likely for “proprietary reasons,” said Green-Haynes.
“If you google ‘Bard college budget,’ ‘Johns Hopkins college budget,’ you aren’t going to find anything, and that is probably by design,” he said. Green-Haynes wants to make clear that the reason the budget was not on the website was not due to a lack of transparency, but rather, because the college has not yet figured out a way to make the budget visible to students without it being shared outside the community.
Last year, GSG put together a finance committee, with members of GSG Senate, to meet with Malcolm Green-Haynes. These students then passed on what they learned to the student body in the budget update. This year, the committee will be open to the entire student body, not just students from the senate.
“It is a good opportunity to learn about budgeting and finance, and it looks good on a resume,” said Lilith Saylor (‘20), of her involvement in the GSG Finance committee.
To view audited financial statements put together by the Accounting department, from 2007 through 2015, search “Goucher college financial statements” in Google. Malcolm Green-Haynes also welcomes any students interested in the budget or who have more questions to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.