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The Williams Campaign – Basic Questions about Finances

In the course of the tribute to President Schapiro that the College released today, penned by Trustee (and Presidential Search Committee Head) Greg Avis ’80, Avis noted that “The Williams Campaign surpassed its $400 million goal last year and in its final weeks is approaching $500 million.”

Until the recent financial crisis, I was not following the College’s finances closely. I would appreciate it if someone would answer a few questions to help me get a stronger foundation.

1) I believe that, while the College is on a fiscal year that ends in June, its fundraising campaigns are structured as being on a  calendar year. Does the quote from Avis mean that the College has raised nearly $500 million this calendar year (the reference to “last year” has me confused)? Is that all of its fundraising for calendar year 2008, or is it for a separate capital campaign to fund construction and perhaps other special programs (such as the earlier campaign to increase the endowment to fund the expansion of the faculty and thus enable the addition of more tutorials)? If it isn’t all of the fundraising, does anyone have any idea of how much else there might be and what it might be for?

2) (This is sickening.) Is it reasonable to assume that a third or more of the $500 million (and any other money raised this calendar year) has vanished into the black hole that has devoured a third or more of the endowment? Is it reasonable to assume that a good chunk of any year-end gifts might go the same way? 

3) The quote from Avis is quite upbeat, but does anyone know how the recent financial downturn has affected the fundraising stream at Williams? Except for my local food bank and food kitchen, every non-profit I know of is reporting that its fundraising intake is down dramatically for the whole calendar year and has slowed to a trickle in recent months.

4) How much money still needs to be raised for the construction projects (principally, the demolition of the Stetson additions, the construction of the new Sawyer, and the demolition of the old Sawyer)? Is this likely to be funded in a different way than the construction of the ’62 Center and Paresky (which involved issuing a considerable amount of debt)?

5) What do you think will happen when it comes time to set tuition for 2009-2010?

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