Gratitude and Legacy

An e-mail message is going to the campus today summarizing some of the conversations we had over the past weekend with the Board of Trustees. Our major theme at the board meeting was the challenge of the current economic climate. We are faced with reduced income from our endowment over the next few years and a challenging environment in which to raise money for our financial aid program. We have proposed a group of budget cuts, a salary freeze for next year, and a modest and temporary increase in the size of entering classes for four years. More information on these proposals can be found at the Securing the Future website: http://www.wesleyan.edu/administration/securingthefuture/112508.html.

The trustees have a tremendous responsibility for Wesleyan. Our job is to ensure that the quality of the education we offer remains at the highest level, and that it is sustainable for generations to come. We are protecting our core values: access to Wesleyan regardless of ability to pay, and first-rate curricular and co-curricular programs for faculty and students who are advancing their fields through research and creative work. This is the legacy we have inherited, and it is the future we are building.

After the long and tense discussions of the weekend, I went to the Freeman Athletic Center for a little exercise. As I looked back across the campus on a beautiful and brisk fall evening, I felt very lucky to be at Wesleyan. Working together with a talented group of faculty, staff, students and trustees, we will chart a course in these turbulent times that combines prudence and ambition, idealism and practicality. We will not only preserve the precious legacy of this university, we will build upon it. The progressive liberal arts education that we offer, an education that enables graduates to lead meaningful lives and contribute to the world around them, has inspired generosity and hard work from families and faculty, from staff and from students.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am so grateful that I work in a community with a legacy and prospects for the future like ours. Happy Thanksgiving!

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4 thoughts on “Gratitude and Legacy

  1. I choose to remain optimistic, even during these times of ecconomic suppression. Our institutaion’s leaders are faced with difficult decisions, the kind no one wants to face. However, they are facing them head-on and acting in an appropriate and immediate fashion. Strong leadership is most evident during the difficult times and we, as faculty, staff, and students, need to be active participants in many ways, not just followers. We will be faced with positions of sacrifice, prioritizing, and optimizing our resources in order to function, as this great institution has for so many decades, as a leader in higher education.
    Pain is what we as an institution and a nation may be facing in the coming months and years. Remember – pain is weakness leaving the body. We will come through this wiser, stronger, and wealthier (in ways more than financial); I’m confident of it. Wesleyan has survived a Civil War, Great Depression, and two World Wars. If we resolve to remain optimistic, committed, and behind our leadership, this will be a piece of cake.

  2. Very nice, but when are you going to come out from behind the generalities and tell us what the results of Wesleyan’s investment portfolio have been? You recently described the first quarter results as “dismal.” We can only imagine what the last few months have brought.

    Wesleyan has a terrible record of financial stewardship over the past 40 years. Are we about to see another leg in that grim march to second rate financial status–or will it be even worse?

    Inquiring alumni want to know.

  3. President Roth, recently I looked down at my cell phone and saw a phone call with an 860 area code — Wesleyan. I knew it had to be a Wes student calling from Red & Black, and usually I love talking to current students, but year I almost didn’t answer: I knew I couldn’t afford to give this year. But I felt bad ignoring the call and answered anyway. President Roth, if can’t afford to give, other people can’t either. Although I admire your leadership and the whole “Securing the Future” thing, there needs to be more than just hiring freezes and class increases. There needs to be a fundamental shift towards preparing students who can make enough money to eventually give back. I hate to admit it but it was a mistake that I never took econ in college. I had to take it years later in grad school. Wes should do more to ensure that students gain the tangible skills necessary to start working immediately out of college if they want to. This means more internship programs for credit, more cooperation with alumni and corporate partners, more assistance with finding summer work, and more general emphasis on giving back to Wes. Man, I can’t believe I just wrote that (I guess I’m getting old) because I loved the freedom and liberal thinking that Wesleyan offered me. But you don’t have to sacrifice that business skills are something that more Wes students lack. Also for Pete’s sake, don’t raise tuition too much! It doesn’t make sense if we take lesser students just because they can afford to pay. Anyway, I caught wind of all this endowment trouble from the nice young woman who called me on my cell phone night. Talking to her guilted me into giving at least a small donation. Maybe we need is a comprehensive grassroots fundraising program with callers like her. Thanks for listening.

  4. I’m wondering why, if Wesleyan’s finances are in such trouble, that I continue to receive an excess of printed collateral from the university. I just received the 2007-08 Wesleyan Fund annual update. It looks really expensive and probably used up a lot of energy to produce. Unfortunately, it’s a complete waste of money. Communicating information like this is what the Internet was made for. It’s uneconomical and environmentally unsound for Wesleyan to continue to send me these materials, and causes me to question the university’s priorities.

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