VI Financial Resources Goal: Maximize Illinois Wesleyan’s financial base and focus the use of financial resources on supporting strategic goals.
Strategy A: Increasing Financial Support. Increase and balance fundraising to strengthen the endowment, maintain/enhance both human and physical capital, and support current operations.
While Illinois Wesleyan has made great strides in developing its academic program, co-curricular activities and physical plant, its ability to maintain those programs and facilities has not kept pace with the needs of the University. The University’s financial requirements have been growing at a time when it has added debt, and its endowment reserves have seen unprecedented fluctuation in value. After the most recent stock market downturn, the University temporarily drew from the endowment at a higher than normal rate. At the same time, the University reduced spending on facilities renewal, and restricted new hiring.
If the University is to remain affordable for an increasingly diverse student body, and at the same time grow the quality of our programs and facilities, increased fundraising must be a high priority. Increased fundraising will help the University offer new and better programs, provide for needed staffing, and better maintain facilities. All of these activities would not be attainable without additional support from corporations, foundations, alumni, and friends. A capital campaign to strengthen the endowment, provide for the renewal of the physical plant, and support current and future operations would be an appropriate tactic in support of this strategy.
Strategy B: Identifying Benchmarks and Measuring Progress. Establish financial benchmarks or measures to gauge the University’s progress against internally established milestones and appropriate comparison schools.
One of the essential components of strategic planning is the assessment of our current position relative to that of peer institutions by using a set of financial benchmarks. Internally established milestones will also let the University set targets to gauge our progress. These benchmarks and milestones will provide objective measures of ongoing progress made over time and against our financially stronger aspiration group. The analysis of the changes will identify both positive and negative trends. The changes need to be evaluated as to whether they are normal fluctuations or part of a trend, and recommendations for corrective actions should be made.
Strategy C: Managing Tuition and Financial Aid. Design tuition and financial aid policies that permit us to generate needed revenues, to be accessible for qualified applicants, and to recruit a strong and diverse student body.
Though tuition has been increasing at an aggressive rate over the past several years, Illinois Wesleyan has found itself in a less than optimal financial position. The tuition and financial aid policies need to be reviewed and molded to ensure that the University will be able to remain affordable for the diverse and qualified student body we want to comprise Illinois Wesleyan in the coming years, remain in line with the financial needs and goals of the University, and deliver value to current students. Appropriate activities in support of this strategy would include, but not be limited to: managing and controlling the financial aid tuition discount rate and reviewing the implementation of merit based aid.
Strategy D under the Identity planning goal involves communicating core messages in as clear and transparent a manner as possible. Because of their importance to prospective students and thus to the financial health of the University, financial aid policies and programs should in all likelihood find an important place among those messages.
Strategy D. Using Existing Resources Strategically. Systematically review resource allocations to ensure resources are being expended in the most cost-effective manner and consider adjustments in support of the University's strategic goals.
While we anticipate that our sources of funding will grow, our fiscal health also depends upon managing those resources that we already have; yet our growth and development over the last fifteen years may have led to areas expanding or shrinking for reasons unrelated to our mission. We must demonstrate responsible stewardship by ensuring that our resources are expended wisely to support the strategic goals and mission of the University. Resource allocations need to be reviewed and potentially corrected to insure that we are effectively meeting our strategic goals. We must develop control systems to ensure that allocations are made in a manner that most efficiently meets the needs of our students, faculty, and staff. The budgeting process must be structured so that programs and expenditures are reviewed critically to help us develop sustainable fiscal policies.
Strategy E: Conserving and Preserving. Adopt effective conservation and renewal programs to control operating costs, promote environmental sustainability, and preserve our physical assets in a sound fiscal manner.
Many of the University’s facilities are generally aged, not energy efficient, and utilize outdated infrastructure. In this age of ever-rising energy costs, investment in “green” technologies not only is socially responsible, but makes financial sense. The University should set aside portions of the operating budget and/or the endowment resources for investment in physical assets that increase the energy efficiency of the campus’ physical assets and reduce operating costs over the long-term. Also, programs should be initiated on campus to encourage energy and resource conservation.
The University’s budget currently fails to fully account for depreciation of physical assets. Further, repairs and improvements to physical assets have been made on a strictly need-basis. Sound fiscal policy requires that the operating budget include depreciation expense which approximates the useful life of the related assets, and expenditures for capital repairs and improvements in an amount approximately equal to such periodic depreciation expense. The University should implement a depreciation program which accounts for the useful life of its physical assets, and develop a program for budgeting and ultimate expenditure on physical assets which approximates the periodic depreciation. New assets (such as new buildings) should be sufficiently endowed to provide funding for repairs and improvements consistent with the periodic depreciation expense associated with the new asset to avoid diverting budgeted repair and improvement dollars from other assets requiring repair.
Strategy F: Presenting Financial Information Transparently. Engage the entire Illinois Wesleyan community in the financial budgeting process by sharing financial information in a transparent manner that helps all users understand both our financial resources and our constraints.
In order to engage the entire Illinois Wesleyan University community in the financial planning process, it is important that there be a common understanding of the financial information so that constituencies can provide meaningful input. The University must continue to operate in a transparent manner regarding budgeting and financial planning, and the strategic planning and budgeting process should continue through an ongoing committee. Appropriate committees and administrators will gather feedback for consideration when developing the budget, including expense reduction and revenue enhancements.