Anderson, Indiana

AU announces initial steps to ensure financial strength and align mission

Fri, 2013-11-01 08:06 -- univcomm
November 1, 2013

In light of challenges facing all of higher education, the Anderson University Board of Trustees recently affirmed an initial strategy to ensure the financial strength of the university and the quality of its academic programs. Adjustments to education delivery and administrative operations are being implemented to solidify Anderson University’s position of financial strength, enhance and align its guiding mission, and continue the delivery of an excellent education to students studying for a life of faith to the church and society.

As a result of increased expenses, modest endowments, and fluctuating enrollments, Anderson University will make adjustments to its operating budget beginning with the 2014-15 fiscal year (starting June 1, 2014). Information was provided to faculty and staff by Dr. James L. Edwards, president of Anderson University following the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees. Follow-up communications were delivered to affected departments and offices as well as to students in affected programs.

“The pressures facing higher education are more extraordinary than at any time on our nearly 100-year history,” said Dr. James. L. Edwards, president of Anderson University. “Anderson University is not immune from these challenges. There has been a marked change in the fundamental nature of higher education. As we continue to monitor and assess this situation, we realize that we must respond differently to the expectations of families as well as to the nature of our operational model. Many institutions across academia will need to make these adjustments and those that don’t will continue to struggle," added Edwards. "The adjustments we are making will greatly optimize our financial position with the right programs and the right pathways for accessing these programs to ensure student success.”

“This journey is unavoidable,” added Dr. Edwards. “The promise of doing this work will enable us to better utilize our resources and strengthen our mission for the future. Above all, we are committed to student success and to the historic mission that we hold as precious and worthy of a vibrant future.”

Plans currently call for significant reduction of expenses and alignment of institutional priorities to take effect at the end of the 2013-14 academic year. As a significant part of this plan 16 faculty and staff positions will not be continued in the 2014-15 academic year. The approved strategy will also result in some programs being reduced or combined. Philosophy, French, and Theatre will no longer be offered as majors while Art+Design and Communications will be combined under a department of Visual and Communication Arts. A new academic structure will also be implemented in the fall of 2014 to ensure the centrality of the liberal arts and encourage collaboration across various academic disciplines. Reductions have also been identified in other programs and departments and discussions have occurred with faculty and staff in these affected areas.

Students studying in affected academic areas will be contacted to ensure the integrity of their academic timeline and confirm the university’s commitment to their continued progress through their chosen academic area of study. Students will be encouraged to contact their respective department chairs or academic deans with questions or concerns.

The university is currently working through a series of strategies to advance the university. These strategies include (but are not limited to): identification of budgetary savings, a re-design of liberal arts curriculum, a review of administrative services, increased resources for the support of student programs, and a renewed evaluation of pricing strategies.

Converging external economic factors have also placed added pressure on the financial challenges facing Anderson University and all of higher education. For example, funding from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education has steadily decreased forcing AU to identify ways to compensate for these adjustments. Added to this is the slower-than-expected economic recovery from the recession of 2008 and volatile market conditions that have led to a reduction of endowment income.

“Through this work on the part of so many who are committed to the mission of Anderson University, we believe that the institution will be grounded in a firm foundation for the future,” said Edwards. “The values of Anderson University (servant leadership, integrity, excellence, generosity and responsibility) serve as our guiding motivation. The promise of continuing this work will enable us to better utilize our resources and strengthen our mission, ‘to educate for a life of faith and service in the church and society.’”

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.