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Magazine On-line [spring 2009]
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A message from President Charles L. Shearer

Transylvania will prevail over economic challenges

Charles L. ShearerThe economic crisis that is having such a dramatic effect on our lives is presenting Transylvania with unique challenges. The conservative fiscal policies we have long practiced, bolstered by our commitment to the highest standards of stewardship over the gifts you entrust us with, have served the college well in recent months as we confront the uncertainties of today’s economic landscape. However, like other colleges and universities throughout the country, Transylvania has not been immune from turmoil in the markets.

Our endowment is the centerpiece of Transylvania’s financial strength and stability. Over the past few decades, many people have worked very hard to raise the endowment to a level appropriate to the needs of a high-quality liberal arts college. Today, we are fighting to conserve this essential resource. Due almost completely to the decline in the stock market, the $144 million endowment we achieved in 2007 now stands at approximately $90 million.

We have relied upon returns from our endowment to support 25-30 percent of our operating expenses on an annual basis, with the balance of the revenue coming from tuition and fees, and gifts. It is critical that we find ways to avoid increasing the percentage the endowment contributes to the operating budget, and thereby preserve this fund for the future of the college. To accomplish this, we are reducing operating costs by scrutinizing every dollar spent, seeking to raise additional gifts to compensate for loss of endowment income, and working to maintain enrollment through financial aid to current students and by enrolling another full, highly qualified entering class this fall. Our guiding principle in all of these actions is to do nothing that would compromise the high quality education our students experience at Transylvania.

In spite of the pressures inherent in this new financial situation, I want to assure you that Transylvania stands proud and undiminished in its role of offering young people one of the finest undergraduate educations in America. As we approach next year’s milestone 230th anniversary—an achievement only 15 other colleges in the nation can match—our strengths are numerous. Our current enrollment of 1,158 is an all-time high, our award-winning faculty members are often cited for excellent teaching, and our campus overflows with energy and activity as we greet the new spring.

Many people have worked long and hard to support this venerable institution. Your gift to the annual fund this year can help make the difference at this critical time in our history. Although there is no certainty about future economic trends, there is one thing I am certain of—the unwavering commitment of our alumni, friends, parents, and trustees to this remarkable institution.

Thank you for all you do for Transylvania.

Charles L. Shearer

Produced by Office of Publications three times a year