Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Provost speaks to campus Senate, says DU is stable financially

Provost Gregg Kvidstad addressed the Undergraduate Student Government tonight in its weekly meeting, discussing the university’s finances. Despite some university-wide cutbacks in the last two years, such as voluntary leaves and hiring freezes, Kvistad said although funds are tight, the university is doing better than other schools.

The University of Denver is in extraordinarily good shape financially,” he said. “I can say that first-hand. I know it.”

As provost, Kvistad is the chief academic officer and also is responsible for the university’s budget.

Most of DU’s revenue comes from tuition and fees, Kvistad said, which is now a benefit. Because DU is not dependent on endowments, it has been able to remain steady, he said.

The cost of tuition for the 2010-11 academic year is $34,956, up 2.98 percent from the previous year.

“This is not a good time to be endowment dependent – not now, not for the next decade,” he said.

Kvistad said Harvard University had to make $200 million in cuts last year because their endowment payouts were down 35 percent to $663 million.

“These institutions have made faculty and program cuts that DU has never contemplated,” Kvistad said.

Because DU is in better shape, the university was able to hire 75 new faculty members for this academic year following a temporary hiring freeze that went into effect at DU in October 2008, when financial turmoil on Wall Street begin. Weeks following the freeze, the DU unveiled a voluntary severance program, in which staff members who willingly left DU would receive a lump-sum payment equal to six months of their salary. More than 100 staff applied for the program.

The 2010-11 academic year also has the largest enrollment of overall graduate and undergraduate students in the university’s history. Kvistad projects the total number of traditional undergraduate students to be 5,028, an increase of 150 from last year.

“The chancellor probably told you we had too many of you,” Kvistad said. “I think we have the capacity for that."

Two weeks earlier, Chancellor Robert E. Coombe told the USG, ""We have no intention of getting bigger than this. In fact, we had no intention of getting this big. We have more students than we want this year, but I think it's manageable."

However, Kvistad says he thinks DU has the capacity to enroll 5,000 students.

The freshmen class alone has 1,231 enrolled students, 31 more than budgeted, with 54 percent female students and 46 percent male, 42 percent of students from in-state, and 58 percent from out of state, and slightly more than 18 percent of the class is students of color.

The class also has had some of the highest test scores in university history, Kvistad said. The average SAT score for the class of 2014 was 1205, while the average GPA was 3.67.

“Our trustees, who are alumni, joke that they couldn’t get in themselves,” Kvistad said.

The Undergraduate Student Government meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Driscoll Ballroom. Next week, Jeff Howard, executive director of alumni relations at DU will speak.

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