President's Message to Parents/Students Regarding the Coming Academic Year, June 2015.
On behalf of the faculty and staff at Drew University, I thank you for entrusting your daughter or son’s education to us and allowing us to be a part of their college experience. Each day I hear incredible stories about what our students are doing to make Drew shine both inside and outside of The Forest. I can certainly attest that they have made my first year as president of Drew very special.
I have also used this first year as president to take a critical look at the University and to make some important decisions about what we are doing well, where there is room for improvement, and what continues to put Drew in the most advantageous position to benefit our students both now and as alumni.
With that review, I have prioritized an in-depth analysis of our revenues, costs, and operational efficiencies. We seek to leverage our unique location, dedicated mentorship from professors, and strong commitment to engaged and active learning in the liberal arts, all in service of providing the best learning experience possible. As president, I try to make each and every decision with an eye to the “learning value” it will provide. I know that you chose Drew because of the intimate learning opportunities it offers, and I am committed to enhancing them further.
I write to you today to inform you in general terms of Drew’s tuition and fee schedule for Academic Year 2015-2016. The fall semester itemized bill reflecting financial aid will arrive via e-mail, but in this letter I wanted to offer further insight on how we make budgetary decisions.
For Academic Year 2015-16, tuition and mandatory fees will be $46,384. Room and Board will be $12,672. This is just under a 3% increase from last year. While we are unable to hold tuition constant, we are committed over the next several years to the smallest possible increases needed to achieve our mission.
What follows are some of the broad questions that we as leaders at Drew pose to ourselves in setting the budget for the upcoming academic year. These questions are at the core of our planning. We understand that cumulatively the decisions we make reflect the lifetime value of a Drew University education and degree.
Are we fulfilling our mission to provide the very best learning opportunities that we can for our students?
Drew continuously innovates to provide the best learning opportunities both on and off-campus, fostered by strong faculty mentorship. A few examples include:
What are we doing to ensure that we are preserving the strong faculty mentorship for which Drew is well known?
Since my arrival at Drew, the feedback I’ve heard most often from parents is that they are grateful and impressed by the impact that the faculty has had on their son or daughter’s experience. In our efforts to maintain the ability to have regular contact and foster that aspect of experiential learning, we are committed to keeping a low faculty-to-student ratio, and augmenting the faculty with outside experts that can add real-world experience to the learning process. Whether these relationships are built in the classroom, through civic engagement, or semesters off-campus, they have often become the cornerstone of a lifelong relationship providing guidance and mentorship long after graduation. New programs that facilitate these relationships are in discussion and will help to continue to further our reputation in this area.
During the economic downturn we were not able to invest in our faculty and staff as we would have liked. We have made it a priority in next year’s budget to begin to correct this problem and to move toward ensuring competitive wages. We must attract and retain the very best faculty and staff to preserve the best of Drew.
Are we doing our very best to review expenses in order to maximize the support of experiential learning in the College of Liberal Arts?
In the analysis that I mentioned earlier, review of our expenses has been an important focus. We have found several areas in which we can achieve greater operational efficiency and we have begun to capitalize on these opportunities to maintain and/or cut expenses. This allows us to direct more resources in support of programs like those listed above and to focus on areas of Drew that need improvement. For example,
Are we maximizing revenue in ways that will allow us to slow the growth of tuition and fees?
As you may know, colleges generally have four main sources of revenue: tuition and fees, including room and board, interest from endowment, annual donations, and auxiliary income
(dollars from money-making operations that go directly to offsetting student fees). Drew has a healthy endowment from which we draw interest, and we are grateful to our many contributors for their annual gifts, but we are striving to improve our performance in fundraising. We are working particularly hard to increase the number of alumni who give back to Drew and the amount of donations we receive annually.
We are also making changes in our conference and events areas to bring even more events and programs to Drew. For example, we are increasing campus rentals during non-academic periods and improving marketing to off-campus neighbors for ticket sales to cultural events.
Most importantly, we are deeply committed to enrolling more students at Drew in order to keep the rate of increase in fees low for individual students. In other words, we are seeking better “economy of scale” without sacrificing the small college essence of Drew. I am happy to report that we are expecting a larger entering class this year (by about 50 students).
Are we providing as much financial aid as possible to make graduating from Drew an achievable goal?
Drew’s annual operating budget this coming year is $111 million of which over $30 million represents scholarships and additional work study. Drew’s merit scholarships are guaranteed for four years based on academic performance. Our need-based financial aid also stays constant unless a student’s economic situation has changed.
I hope that you have found this information useful, but I realize I can only address so many topics in one letter. If you have remaining questions about our operations, please do not hesitate to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond as quickly we can.
As I begin my second year at Drew and work on our strategic goals, I continuously return to one outcome I wish for your son or daughter: that he or she never has a moment’s regret about choosing Drew University and that throughout their lives they see the value of their education increase. Our administration, faculty, and staff will continuously strive to achieve this outcome and we will work hard to deserve your trust.
With deep appreciation,