Con faculty discuss budget
The first Conservatory Faculty Meeting led by Acting Dean David Stull was held Tuesday. Nancy Dye spoke frankly regarding the role and mission of the Conservatory, emphasizing the differences between the Conservatory and the College of Arts and Sciences with a distinctly financial outlook.
“We have to figure out a way — either through financing or through pricing of the Conservatory or some other way financially — so that we don’t have to struggle as we have struggled the last five years,” Dye said. “There’s really no other way.”
Both Dye and Stull spoke in the framework of the College’s current strategic planning exercise, a process examining everything from the College’s mission statement to the viability of its programs and policies.
However, Dye was not bashful to point out that the Conservatory expends a huge bulk of monetary resources to bring qualified students to Oberlin.
“The better you’re doing, the more you need to compete monetarily for [students],” Dye said. “That is not the case in other institutions except conservatories.”
While this is an anomaly in U.S. higher education, so is Oberlin’s union between a Conservatory and a College of Arts and Sciences. Dye said that the joint status has inflated tuition for the Conservatory, which is much higher than stand-alone conservatories.
Dye and Stull both stressed the importance of the Conservatory in the institution as a whole. “More than 50 percent of the students who apply to [the Arts and Sciences school] identify the Conservatory as a major reason why,” Stull said.
He added that the Conservatory needed to look for ways to integrate itself more with the culture of the College.
Dye asserted that the constant competition between both institutions to garner scholarship money had to end.
“In the next couple months, we all need to grapple with brainstorming how we can more focus the mission of the Conservatory,” Dye said. The current arrangement “pits the two institutions against each other.”
Vice President of Finance Andrew Evans also gave a budget report at the meeting in which he stressed the need for stringent costcutting. Evans told the faculty that the Board had approved a two percent raise cap on salaries and that the College was projecting a $1.5 million deficit in the fiscal year beginning June 2004. The deficit projection has actually decreased from a week ago, when the College projected a $2 million budget gap.
Evans also stressed the challenges of rising health care costs in the wake of a graph circulated by the administration projecting an $8 million increase in coverage during the next several years. “The real challenges are on the benefits side,” Evans said.
Conservatory Director of Facilities Planning Michael Lynn detailed the construction projects planned for Conservatory operations during the next year, including further renovations to Warner Concert Hall and a major overhauling of the jazz facilities in Hales Gym.