Among the 50 or so top liberal arts institutions in the nation, Bucknell stands alone with the largest enrollment in the group and the broadest curricular offerings — spanning the traditional liberal arts and professional studies in education, engineering, management and music. This ambitious commitment to provide wide curricular opportunities to 3,500 students each year is costly. The University’s commitment to a diverse student body — including socioeconomic diversity — and the accompanying need for ample need-based financial aid resources — increases these costs. [Note: Some data have changed since The Plan language was approved in 2006.]
Traditionally a highly tuition-dependent institution (73 percent), Bucknell relies on tuition and fees revenue as its primary source for supporting the education of each student. But in the interests of access, Bucknell must continually search for ways to constrain the growth of tuition in the future. This limitation places an enormous burden on the University’s endowment, the second major source of institutional revenue.
Thanks to the generosity of generations of alumni and friends, and a disciplined investment strategy, Bucknell’s endowment has grown significantly to a market value of $472 million (June 30, 2005).While an impressive sum, the most accurate gauge of the effectiveness of an institution’s endowment is endowment per student. Compared to our smaller competitors, Bucknell’s large enrollment denominator means that less endowment is available to support improvements to the educational experience of every student. Bucknell ranked tenth within a 12-school group of peers in endowment market value per fulltime equivalent (FTE) student as of June 30, 2005. Even within a very different group of institutions determined by their strength as admissions competitors, Bucknell ranked ninth of 12 schools in endowment per FTE student. To secure our financial future, Bucknell must move into the top quartile of peer institutions in endowment per student.
In its fall 2005 college guide, US News & World Report ranked Bucknell 42nd in financial resources among the top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Despite significant gains in many other areas of ranking over the last decade, Bucknell’s financial resources rank has fallen from the mid-30s since the year 2000.
Bucknell’s strategy to Secure Our Financial Future seeks to assure sufficient resources to constrain the growth in tuition and fees, provide the financial aid required to meet our recruitment and diversity goals, support initiatives to enhance the quality and effectiveness of student learning and development in and out of the classroom, weather future downturns in financial markets, and sustain the quality of the campus, human resources, and the operational infrastructure that support Bucknell’s educational mission.
Secure Our Financial Future thus represents an enabling strategy that is essential to support the other strategies that speak more directly to student outcomes for learning and growth. This strategy is pursued in a comprehensive manner, through considerations of capital and operating budgets, major cost drivers, careful prioritization and resource allocation, and close integration with plans for the upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign.
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