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the visual arts are thriving, we have outgrown the spaces they now
occupy. The strength of our studio program and the excellence of
our museum will depend upon new spaces. A visual arts building and
a new, centrally located black box theater for student theater and
dance productions are critical needs. We have engaged Frederick
Fisher, a distinguished architect based in Los Angeles, to design
a new studio facility and help us prepare for a new addition to
the museum and to integrate and make the best use of all our visual
arts spaces. Mr. Fisher has a specialty in designing and building
art spaces, including the Long Beach Museum of Art, the new studio
building at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, the P.S.
1 Contemporary Arts Center in New York City, and a current project,
the Berlinische Gallerie, in the Berlin Municipal Art Museum.
selected Fred Fisher as our architect for many reasons: we like
the beauty, energy, imagination, and contemporary style of his buildings
and his sensitivity to site and context. In our case, this is particularly
important, given that our new studio building will be sited cheek-by-jowl
with Cass Gilberts and Robert Venturis contributions
to the Oberlin campus. It is also a plus that Fred is an Oberlin
graduate, Class of 1971, one of the many who found at Oberlin a
great education in art.
our Oberlin College/Oberlin, Ohio, partnership is going well, particularly
our work with the public schools. A proposal for a new teacher education
program for Oberlin students that will involve a fifth year of intensive
preparation will soon be on its way to Columbus for approval by
the state department of education. Our Oberlin Scholarship Program,
which provides a full-tuition scholarship for any young person who
grows up in Oberlin, graduates from Oberlin High School, and is
admitted to Oberlin College, is going very well. Five Oberlin High
School graduates will be part of our entering class this coming
important in the long run is our work with the schools to help raise
the expectations and aspirations of young people growing up in this
community. As we become more engaged with our local community, we
become more aware that the health of Oberlin College is bound up
with the health of Oberlin, Ohio.
It will not come as a surprise to many you, given current economic
circumstances, that Oberlin, like every other college and university,
must now tighten its belt. The recession that we are experiencing
began to affect Oberlin in the spring of 2001about the time
that this recession officially beganand the events of September
11 abruptly accelerated the economic downturn we were already experiencing.
Like many leading institutions of independent private education,
we will run a budget deficit this year; in Oberlins case it
will total about $3.5 million.
endowment has lost ground, as has every major endowment. From its
high of about $610 million in the spring of 2000, it fell to approximately
$550 million by September 30, 2001. We have recovered some ground
since then, but we will achieve only a modest single-digit return
by the end of June 2002. We project that the income we will be able
to draw down from the endowment over each of the next three years
will remain the same. This has real implications for Oberlins
operating budgets over the next few years. Endowment incomeour
second most important source of income after tuitionwill stay
constant at about $34 million a year, while our costs for salaries
and wages, health care, energy, library materials, and other necessities
will continue to rise, often well beyond the growth of the Consumer
these continuing costs, rapidly rising health care expenses are
especially problematic for us. Our employee health care costs over
the past two years have risen by 92 percent, from about $5 million
in the year 1999-2000 to more than $9.6 million in this academic
year. We are not alone: many American colleges and universitiesindeed,
many businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sortshave
experienced similar increases, and we are told that we must expect
equally steep increases over the next few years. We cannot expect
any changes in U.S. public policy to help us solve this problem.
We must address it ourselves.
is in a very good position, financially and otherwise, to weather
this downturn and address what is an entirely manageable set of
problems. In no way are we experiencing a financial crisis, but
we are in for a few years of significant bother. Over the past several
months, we have been aggressively addressing our budget issues and
health care costs so we can maintain and enhance the improvements
we have made over the past few years. Our primary concern is to
preserve and enhance our core mission of teaching and learning.
There, too, we are fortunate to have the resources to continue pushing
toward meeting all of our strategic objectives in admissions, faculty
salaries, and curriculum and academic programs. In all of our decision
making, Oberlin is and will continue to be guided by our strong
commitment to academic excellence, equity, diversity, and generosity.
past four years have been critically important for Oberlins
future. The next few years may well be even more critical. In these
years of budgetary stringency, we must consolidate and secure the
gains we have realized and build on our accomplishments. Oberlins
future depends on it.
so I am unabashedly asking each of you to help us. Whether it is
for gifted young musicians or future biologists, student scholarships,
faculty salaries, research, or for the new Science Center or our
new art building, we need your support now more than ever.
I leave you with one final thought. As some of you know, my husband,
Griff, and I spent the fall of 2000 on sabbatical leave traveling
throughout Asia. I learned a great deal, including quite a bit about
Asian higher education. Everywhere Griff and I wentthrough
Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Uzbekistan, and TurkmenistanI
was asked to speak to the faculty, deans, and presidents of Asian
universities about American higher education.
I was always asked to address two issues. The first of these was
governance and financein particular, governance of independent
American colleges and universities. There is a strong movement throughout
Asia to make universities more autonomous, free from the state in
matters of faculty, curriculum, and funding.
The second issue was liberal education. This really surprised me.
Yet Asian educators wanted to understand how American undergraduate
education manages to educate young adults so broadly and prepare
them so well for a rapidly changing economy, rapidly developing
technologies, and a dramatically changing world.
encounters with Asian educators made me realize more clearly than
ever before of the importance of that unique American contribution
to higher education: the liberal arts college. What is more, my
experiences helped me realize that the future of both liberal arts
education and liberal arts colleges is more important than ever
With your help, Oberlinour Collegeis exceptionally well
positioned for what lies ahead.
you for everything you are doing for this College. It is an honor
and a pleasure for me to serve as the president of this great institution.
coverage of reunion and commencement weekend will appear in the
fall issue of OAM.
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