Trustees approve budget of $306.7 million for fiscal 2013

Growth of student body will moderate, some class sizes will be reduced

The Brandeis University Board of Trustees has approved a $306.7 million budget for the coming fiscal year that includes carefully selected investments aimed at moderating the growth of the student body, reducing select class sizes and improving the first-year student experience, advising, career counseling, technology resources and the Rose Art Museum.

“This is a budget of investment,” said Provost Steve Goldstein, who heads the university’s budget and planning committee. “We are selecting areas where we can support significant programs right away -- emphasizing this year those that have a positive effect on student life.

“We are always looking short-, medium- and long-term in our budget. The choices we make reflect our values and our needs. There are many other areas we want to support and we hope get to many of those in the coming years as we align our priorities with our resources through the strategic planning process,” he added.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel said a major goal in the fiscal year 2013 budget was to improve the student experience, from residential halls to classrooms.

“Chief among this year’s concerns was moderating the growth of our student body, both lowering the size of select classes and decreasing the number of incoming first-year students,” he added.

Under current projections, Flagel said, the Brandeis fall class will be 800-820 students, compared with last fall’s class of 858 – the largest in school history. It will rank as the second largest, he said.

“This should alleviate some issues in our residence halls and with class availability is subsequent years,” Flagel said.

“Another aspect that is heavily weighted is our commitment to providing access by keeping Brandeis well out of the range of the most expensive institutions while maintaining our dedication to funding a need-blind/full-need financial aid process within the scope of our resources,” he added.

The budget includes a total cost increase of 4.1 percent for returning undergraduates and 4.85 percent for new students. Total cost for continuing undergraduate students will be $56,022, while total costs for new undergraduate students will be $56,407. Graduate students should consult their individual schools for their total costs.

“The university budget and planning committee has been very intentional about keeping our increases as low as possible, especially for continuing students. At the same time, the committee sought to balance the need for fiscal restraint with the desire to ensure and enhance the student experience, both in and out of the classroom,” said Flagel.

Brandeis also committed to spending a total of $86.5 million in financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students — an increase of nearly 7 percent, or $5.5 million -- over the current budget.

Among the highlights of the budget, which will take effect July 1, 2012:

  • $1.9 million in new investments aimed at targeted areas.
  • Additional sections of introductory language classes and some higher-level language classes will be limited to 18 students.
  • A first-ever pilot for a new Brandeis model for “Living-Learning Communities” that bring together incoming first-year students who share an interest in leadership and academic and co-curricular learning in a residential setting. The working titles for each community are "Media, Politics and Society" and "Global Connections,” and they will involve intimate engagement with faculty and Community Advisers.
  • A pilot of a new series of seminars for first-year students called JustBooks. These small seminars will engage students in humanist inquiry and will honor the university's focus on social justice.
  • Additional resources for both Advising and Career Counseling to provide students with greater guidance during their Brandeis years and into their post-undergraduate years.
  • A re-investment in Library and Technology Services, which was deeply impacted during the economic crisis. Areas targeted for improvements include library collections and subject-area librarians, information security, overdue computer refresh and classroom equipment renewals across campus, upgrades to the campus learning management system, data warehousing and efforts to protect unique archival and special collections from environmental damage.
  • An investment in the re-energized Rose Art Museum.

Frances A. Drolette, senior vice president for finance and chief financial officer, said the spending plan is a cautious reflection of the improved financial climate, the desire to fund some immediate priorities that align with the university’s values and mission, and a recognition that other initiatives will await the results of the ongoing strategic planning effort.

“The university continues to operate in a stable but resource-constrained environment…. Such measured steps are deemed necessary to our short-term efforts but do not presuppose directions or preempt choices that will result from the strategic planning effort,” Drolette said in her prepared presentation to the Board. 

“The core principle in all these efforts is that the budget must include adequate and sustainable resources to support the critical academic and strategic priorities of the university,” she added.

Categories: General, Student Life

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