Money talking money

By Amanda Murphy

In the past year, Columbia made strides toward a more promising financial position compared to that of the last several years.

Or so said Columbia President Warrick L. Carter spoke at a faculty and staff convocation on March 11 about the college’s recent financial status. He explained the reasons behind some of the unpopular decisions Columbia’s administration made in recent months, such as staff cuts.

“We’ve had some challenges [during] the last two years, and it’s not a surprise to anyone,” Carter said. “But we’ve had some good things as well.”

Carter emphasized that the college’s current status is stable, and the administration is looking at all aspects to ensure Columbia is making the best financial and academic decisions.

An issue Carter addressed was the college’s recent staff cuts of 23 employees. The adjustments Columbia is making, including letting staff go, will save the college $6 million, he said.

“Those were extremely difficult decisions,” Carter said. “We need to refocus and redesign some of our systems to make sure we are doing it the best way we can—as economically possible as we can—while still serving our students.”

Another way the college will save money is through the purchase of the Johnson Publishing Building, according to Carter.

The new building will allow the college to house departments in the 218 S. Wabash Ave. and 1112 S. Wabash Ave. buildings, which will save money by eliminating leased space.

The college’s board of directors and administration have announced a campaign to raise $100 million for the college. Carter revealed at the convocation that $60 million has been raised so far, and he hopes Columbia will exceed the target.

“We have a board that understands the importance of giving to the institution, not only their time but their treasures,” Carter said. “They are stepping up to the plate to support the college in the ways it should.”

Carter said one of the main struggles Illinois colleges are dealing with is the lack of government funding through scholarships. Columbia is due $6 million for last fall alone from the Illinois Monetary Award Program. In combination with the money the college was supposed to receive for the current semester, the state owes Columbia a total of $11 million.

One way the college can create more revenue is by increasing student enrollment, Carter said. However, those numbers continue to drop. He said the enrollment is currently at 11,922 students, compared with 12,500 in 2008, the highest it has been. This resulted in a $10 million loss for the college.

To compensate for raising tuition and lack of government aid, the Columbia board of directors is adding $4 million to the scholarship fund, which will support 1,000 more students, according to Carter.

“It shows the board understood we need to do what we can do to help students as they are facing all of these trials and tribulations,” Carter said.