It is no secret that these are difficult times. Due to the troubled economy, everyone in the Oberlin family —our faculty, students, parents, staff, and alumni—is facing challenges.
Here at the College, we are working to safeguard Oberlin’s profound commitments to academic, artistic, and musical excellence and to financial aid and access for worthy students from every walk of life. Oberlin is not immune to the economic downturn. But unlike many institutions of higher education, we have thus far been able to avoid taking truly draconian measures because we were in relatively robust financial health when the current crisis hit. Although the value of our endowment assets has declined significantly, and some of our costs have risen dramatically, we remain better positioned than many colleges and universities.
Although the economic situation remains highly volatile, some conclusions are clear. We are currently projecting balanced budgets for the next two fiscal years and are entering a period of flat or, quite possibly, declining budgets. We are working to reduce expenditures for this fiscal year and next. Salaries represent a large expense on our operating budget. Given the circumstances, we anticipate no faculty, administrative and professional staff, or confidential staff salary increases next year, except in a few extraordinary cases.
While tightening our belts, the College remains committed to meeting the needs of our current and future students, and to continuing our long-term commitments to building and strengthening the institution. Over the course of its 175-year history, Oberlin has weathered turbulent economic and socio-political times. By remaining true to our core values, and working together to preserve our resources, we will emerge from this downturn a vibrant, healthy institution.
Taken as a whole, the stories in this issue are a tribute to Oberlin’s steadfast commitment to academic, artistic, and musical excellence, and to the creativity, drive, and leadership of our students and alumni, such as Eric Bogosian ’76. Eric has had a remarkable career as an author, playwright, and actor. We are thrilled that he is returning to Oberlin as a Convocation speaker this coming February.
The article in this issue about Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis ’77 provides a fine example of how Oberlin graduates put their core values into action. Jim is a nationally recognized leader on housing issues. This fall, he shared his knowledge with our students by teaching a class here titled Subprime Mortgage Meltdown.
Oberlin’s current students are also doing outstanding things. Congratulations are due to Lucas Brown ’09, who was recently named a 2009 Rhodes Scholar, Oberlin’s first since 1991, and also to Helen Hare ’09, who was named a 2008 Truman Scholar. Oberlin is one of just two institutions of higher education to be named a 2008 Truman Foundation Honor Institution. Sophomore Joanna Johnson also deserves kudos for winning All-American honors. Joanna was undefeated during the regular season and won the 2008 North Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship.
Even in these challenging times, I believe investing in Oberlin and the remarkable young women and men who come here and work so hard with our outstanding faculty is the best investment anyone can make. I wish all of you well, and I thank you for your support and your loyalty to Oberlin College.