Responsible Spending

19 December 2014

Marielle Foster '16Carleton’s Budget Committee members take their charge to be good stewards of the college’s resources seriously. So it’s no surprise they get excited about improvements that maximize the campus’s energy efficiency. From solar-heated hot water systems and green roofs to building maintenance and lighting upgrades, these improvements have significantly reduced the college’s energy usage over the past 10 years and helped Carleton wring the most out of every dollar.

As the current chair of the Budget Committee, dean of the college Bev Nagel ’75 leads two faculty members, eight staff members, and two students through the complex process of advising vice president and treasurer Fred Rogers ’72 on the college’s overall spending strategy. “We always think about our decisions in terms of what their implications will be five or ten years from now,” says Nagel. “We want to strike a balance between the present and the future.”

For example, Carleton switched to a new health insurance provider this year, a move that comes with logistical challenges and one-time expenses, but that will offer better service to employees and ultimately save the college nearly $1 million annually. Additionally, recently expanded partnerships with St. Olaf have improved efficiencies at both colleges, trimming costs on electronic library catalogs, college ID systems, and IT help desk support.

Committee member Marielle Foster ’16 (pictured) says the experience has given her a greater appreciation for Carleton’s prudent spending and long-term focus. “We had higher than expected heating costs this past winter because it was so cold, but because we receive reimbursements for the energy generated by our wind turbines, we stayed under budget,” says Foster, who is a computer science and math major. “We’re in a very advantageous position because of smart choices and investments we made years ago.”

Rogers and the Budget Committee strive to stay true to Carleton’s core values, and Nagel says the entire Carleton community supports them in that mission. “When we went through the financial crisis in 2009, some program directors offered to give part of their budget back to the college so we could redeploy those resources to areas that needed them most,” Nagel recalls. “People at Carleton are responsible. They have a clear sense of what the important priorities are.”

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