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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Integrated planning works towards 7 year plan

Published: January 14, 2005
Section: News

University President Jehuda Reinharz officially revealed, on Dec. 13, to the entire Brandeis community the existence of an administrative planning group formed in fall 2003 to undertake a complete review of University operations and propose changes for the next seven years. This integrated planning committee, composed of senior University administrators, was charged to “undertake a rigorous, realistic, comprehensive, and informed planning effort to integrate all areas and aspects of the University's operations,” according to Reinharz's letter to the community.

The committee is composed of the University's senior administration team: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French, Provost Marty Krauss, Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe, Senior Vice President of Communications Lorna Miles Whalen, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy and Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning Jim Hurley.

Unlike other strategic planning initiatives, which often come about as a result of budget deficits, the integrated planning process, “was driven not just by money, but by goals,” said Provost Marty Krauss. The plan, which looks ahead seven years to 2012, projects a net gain of $15 million to the University budget.

While it is unclear whether Reinharz is proposing a formal, written plan for the future, several major initiatives fall under, or have been folded into, integrated planning. Among these pieces are plans for debt reduction and endowment growth, proposals for new buildings and facilities upgrades, and a restructuring of various academic programs and services.

According to Krauss, the integrated planning process started with a “deep analysis of the University in all its parts” followed by an “articulation of goals and priorities that we'd like to achieve over the next seven years.” Next came, “a rough costing of what those would cost, sticker shock and then a realization that we have to make choices” among $40 million in different priorities.

Proposed changes in the Academy, including the discontinuation of Linguistics and the doctoral program in Music Composition, along with cutbacks to Classics, Physics, and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, have provoked an outcry among faculty (see related articles, page 5).

Many have criticized the handling of the planning process and the amount of communication between senior administrators and the rest of the community. Three members of the Faculty Senate contacted by The Hoot declined to be interviewed, citing ongoing investigations and their lack of a full understanding of the proposals being put forward by the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

“I haven't seen anything that I would call a plan,” said Prof. Stephen Cecchetti (IBS). Operating units within the University have individual plans, but “I did not know what they meant by integrated and I just don't understand what they are doing.” Cecchetti admits that clearly “they are doing something” and he might not have put in enough effort to understand the complicated process fully.

“It was the President's intention from the beginning to have an open and transparent process,” said Dr. John Hose, Executive Assistant to President Reinharz. “Ultimately the choices have to be made each year when there is a budget,” but Reinharz goal was to make the process more long-term and get more input from the community.

“In retrospect, it is clear that there were some lost opportunities in terms of clearer communications to begin with that could have avoided some misunderstandings,” said Hose. He noted that all of the planning documents are now available online in full at the President's integrated planning web site for community review (Keyword “integrated” from the Brandeis home page).

The documents cover a broad range of University services. Plans for campus improvements include additional renovation and expansion of the Rose Art Museum, a master plan for Spingold Theater, planning for new science buildings and residence halls, and additional renovation to Usdan Student Center (see related article, page 1). Projects are currently underway to build a superconducting magnet facility, a new building for the Heller School, and a new Fine Arts center.

“I really am pushing for a residence hall that has apartments in it, because I really believe that the upperclassmen in the community are looking to that as the final step before they graduate,” said Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy.

“I also think that we need some more amenities on the residence halls,” she said. Some of the residence hall lounges, “are really pushing being usable. I want as many spaces for students to congregate on this campus as they can.”

Also in the planning stages is the addition of at least one parking garage and changes to the peripheral loop road in a quest to make Brandeis a “car-free” campus. Initial plans call for a multi-level parking structure in X-Lot, but a funding source has not yet been identified.

Reinharz has also put forward goals for admissions, including increasing selectivity, raising SAT scores, and stabilizing enrollment at near its current level.

Budget presentations by the Office of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French reveal that the University currently owes upwards of $152 million in debts, an amount that is expected to fluctuate as additional loans come due. In each coming year it is expected that Brandeis will need to pay over $10 million dollars in interest and principle to service existing debt obligations. Included in Brandeis' debt is the recent $25 million bond approved by the Board of Trustees to fund infrastructure renewal, another program that now falls under the integrated planning umbrella.

In addition to managing debt, central to French's vision of placing Brandeis on a sound financial footing is a desire to grow the endowment, currently worth approximately $407 million, notable given the age of the University but small in comparison with our peer institutions.

French aims to reduce endowment draw from a current 6% per year to an industry standard 5% per year, according to planning documents. By reducing annual draw and growing the endowment, the University can deal with the effects of inflation and grow its fiscal reserves, ensuring a sustainable amount of operating capital for the future. However, this goal can only be achieved by limiting current expenditures, increasing debt, or by bringing in additional money through fund raising.

Annual fund raising revenues are estimated to jump from $65 million a year to $93 million by 2012.

The so-called “E3” infrastructure renewal project has also been shoe-horned into integrated planning. This project aims to reduce Brandeis energy consumption by fixing steam, water, and electrical distribution infrastructure. E3 also encompasses residence hall renovations to install fire sprinklers, improvements to classrooms, and the performance of various other previously deferred building maintenance projects.

As time goes on, additional projects and ideas, both new and existing, may be incorporated into integrated planning. No time line has been set for the conclusion of the open-ended process and there is no indication that any formal report or proposal is being prepared.