Dear Loyola community,
Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with nearly 300 members of faculty and staff to provide an update on enrollment and Magis. We reviewed a detailed overview of our progress to date, particularly the $11 million dollars in financial improvements that will allow us to realize our university goal of a balanced budget at the end of the next school year. Faculty and staff brought great questions and pressing concerns to the table, and we had meaningful and informative dialogue. We also discussed that no plan works perfectly. We carefully and continuously monitor, and where necessary, take steps to keep us on track. We also discussed the fact that we have a reserve that we can fall on, should we encounter any surprises.
Below is a brief recap of key parts of the presentation:
Central to the presentation and process are the guiding principles we have committed to following. Some phrasing has changed based on community feedback.
The Loyola University New Orleans community commits to sound and ethical financial decision-making and fiscal responsibility for the 2018-2019 year. As we review our budgets, expenses, investments, and organizational structure, we will be guided by the following principles:
- Keep our excellent student experience
- Provide for the financial stability for the university
- Do no harm to the university
- Judiciously make cost reductions, and when those involve people, make sure they are treated with dignity and respect
- Stop doing things that we don’t really need to do
- Reduce the number of micro classes and very small classes except for independent studies
- Have faculty fulfill their required responsibilities other than teaching
- Reduce the number and amount of stipends where appropriate
Let me be clear: We are well on a path to financial health, to improving the university, and to serving our students more effectively. We also know that we have more work to do to meet our financial goals and better align our systems. But, as I have said, we are not unlike many other universities working to adjust to the need to be lean, nimble, and strong.
While we are nearly finished with our work planning for next year, the plans themselves are not final, and no final decisions have been made. We wanted to hold the town hall meeting prior to the conclusion of the academic year to provide an update and to hear any concerns and feedback. We will finalize our plan in the coming week so that we will meet our target reduction and revenue goals. That is our charge, and that is our promise.
A review of our progress to date through Magis highlights both realized achievements and areas where we must press on in Magis Two.
As mentioned above, Magis has already secured $11 million in improvements realized this year alone, including $4 million in operational savings by new and better use of resources and our faculty and staff.
While we take pride in our small class size and our faculty/student ratio of 11:1, we have also realized through intensive data review that we currently have a disproportionate number of classes with five students or fewer. Dr. Calzada has pointed out that it is desirable to have more students in a class, so that there is broader and diverse views and engagement. Dr. Calzada and the college deans are completing a plan to better align our resources and better serve our students.
We are also carefully reviewing all costs and expenses that fall outside college operations. As you know, we have recently introduced a zero-based budgeting process. All departments are charged with working differently, to stop doing what is not necessary and deliver on clear and necessary targets. It is a healthy and rejuvenating process and will lead to less cost and better quality.
Dr. Calzada and I are traveling next week to meet with the members of SACSCOC, as part of our ongoing partnership and communications plan with our accrediting body. We will discuss our progress to date and our confidence that we are financially stable and will be financially strong by July 31, 2019.
Part of our plan for success includes a new and robust organizational structure designed to help the university operate more efficiently and effectively. This chart is very similar to that of another faith-based university we have carefully studied over the last year. That university, without the benefit of an endowment, made itself healthy by bringing in high-quality leadership and organizing them in a streamlined and effective way.
The new organization chart reduces the number of direct reports to the University President and highlights the three organizational leads:
- Provost & SVP Academic Affairs
- SVP Enrollment Management/Student Affairs
- SVP Finance, HR and Admin
Two of the three above are similar to what we already have today. We have added one new position, which consolidates the functions of enrollment management, marketing and communications, and student affairs. We have eliminated three direct reports from the existing structure. This streamlining makes it clear that the Provost is the first among equals; the leader of the university has a small but potent Senior Leadership team. This proposal will also reduce overall expense of administrative overhead.
Our goal has been to design an interim structure that both upholds our Jesuit mission and carries us into the future. We will operate with this structure for the time being and the new President will be able to make changes that are desired.
We also have very good news to share. We expect another large class of freshmen this year. We have done much better in retaining our rising sophomores. Preliminary tracking of lead indicators indicates that 86.6% of our first-year students are registered for Fall 2018 classes. This is a testimony to their quality experience on campus. Though we will not know final enrollment and retention numbers until September, it is exciting to see that we remain on track to meet our retention goals for first-year students. It’s incumbent upon all of us to ensure that each student at Loyola has an outstanding academic and student experience, so that we continue to maintain and increase our retention going forward. Nonetheless, we are encouraged.
One staff member’s comment that deeply resonated with me at the town hall meeting centered around the importance of saying ‘thank you’ … and saying it from the heart.
Thank you for all that you do for Loyola. I am grateful for all of your hard work, and I am proud to be a part of this wonderful community.