Facing the Challenges of the Economic Downturn

7 November 2008

Dear Carleton Community:

Two weeks ago, Carleton’s Board of Trustees concluded a meeting that, while challenging, was confirming of the Board’s commitment to ensuring that Carleton students, now and in the future, will continue to have access to the finest liberal arts education possible. We were reminded that the College is all about people and it is they – our students, faculty, and staff – who have a collective strength that surely will transcend the current economic upheavals. Through our support of the people who are the College, we will assure the excellence of a Carleton education.

Of course, the current economic realities require our attention. The College needs to recognize and plan for the great uncertainty in financial markets, and economists warn us that this current downturn will likely continue to move to other sectors of the economy. The Board was encouraged to learn that the College Budget Committee began, already in September, this process of planning in the face of continued financial uncertainty.

About 28% of Carleton’s operating budget comes from income drawn from the endowment. Decreases in the overall value of the endowment thus affect the amount we can prudently spend in any year without jeopardizing our ability to offer a Carleton education to future generations of students. Although the current decline in the value of our endowment was notably less than what U.S. stock markets have experienced, it still has been considerable. The Board is paying close attention to these events and will be working collaboratively with Carleton’s Administrative Council, the Budget Committee, and others on campus to understand and implement short and long-term strategies for best dealing with these issues.

As we navigate the next few months, we know that good and frequent communication is crucially important. Especially in the world of higher education, where information and communication are of significant value, it is vital that Carleton’s administration continue to do all we can to keep you usefully informed as events unfold.

The extraordinary talents and generosity of the Carleton community remain its most valuable assets. We acknowledge the great financial sacrifices that families make to send their children to Carleton. We are committed to need-based financial aid despite what financial news may become apparent in the weeks and months ahead. We are also grateful for our donors’ on-going financial support of Carleton, especially during this uncertain economic climate, and are sensitive to how they are experiencing the economy.

The Board of Trustees and the College administration will draw strength and wisdom from all these assets, and we will continue to place exceptionally high value on the faculty and staff who help deliver the Carleton experience. With your help and support, we will lead the College through these choppy waters with calm caution, and we will take necessary actions, in a timely way, to alter course carefully and conservatively.

Jack Eugster, Chair, Board of Trustees
Rob Oden, President

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