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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FY2010 budget balanced, fundraising money to be used toward financial aid

Published: August 28, 2009
Section: Front Page

Brandeis University’s Department of Development and Alumni Relations secured $78.3 million in cash gifts in the 2009 fiscal year. The money will be used primarily to help students in need of financial aid, and also helped produce a balanced university budget for fiscal year 2010.

Of the $78.3 million, $11.6 million were given as unrestricted gifts, meaning the money can be used for any purpose within the university.

The university’s fundraising success makes FY09 the “fourth largest year for cash gifts ever to Brandeis,” according to an e-mail message from university President Jehuda Reinharz to the faculty over the summer.

This “fundraising success” comes despite what Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship called the “hardest fundraising year in my 15 years at Brandeis.”

As part of the budget cuts, the university suspended its contribution to the retirement plans of faculty and staff for one year this July—a move that closed $7.4 million of the then projected $8.9 million budget gap.

The retirement fund cuts, coupled with the reduction of 76 staff positions, and a better-than-expected endowment return, helped produce the balanced budget, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French wrote in an e-mail message to the Brandeis community.

The university had been bracing for an endowment return of -30 percent, however, the actual endowment return was -17.3 percent, French wrote in his e-mail.

The university also dipped into one million dollars from the university’s emergency reserve.

This year, the university’s Department of Development and Alumni Relations stressed the importance of donating toward financial aid when asking for gifts, Winship said.

Neither Winship’s office nor that of Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment knew exactly how much of the $78.3 million raised actually went towards students in need of financial aid.

Winship did say, however, “if we really were going to alleviate the need, we would need a $1 billion endowment to support financial aid.”

Though the university may have a balanced budget for FY10, it has not been balanced without cutbacks.

“The university still has a deficit,” Winship said. “There are many things that can’t be funded by this, and lots of cuts will be made.”

Winship said she is concerned about how the university will get gifts for next year from donors who “were already asked to stretch their gifts for us this year,” Winship said.

Additionally, while Brandeis relies on alumnae to donate money to the university, Brandeis is automatically at a disadvantage because it is a young university.

“We don’t have those 90 year old alumni who are getting ready to give money away,” Winship said, “Our alums are young, still working and have families to feed and mortgages to pay. So in tough economic times, it’s hard to compete with those needs.”