George sets path for college budget

By Andrew Stettler
March 5, 2009

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, in a time of great economic crisis and just four days after her return from Guatemala, Dr. Marie George gave her first State of the Campus Address to a staff-packed Widener Lecture Hall.

George made it immediately clear that because Cabrini has a smaller amount invested in the stock market than many other colleges, Cabrini has not been as harmfully affected as big-name colleges due to the economic crisis.

“We did not set off alarm bells in the fall when the economic crisis occurred,” George said in her address to staff and administrators.

“We are in a position to move ahead with some cautionary notes.”

In late January, The Loquitur reported that 371 private colleges were responding to the economic crisis by freezing hiring and eight percent were cutting financial aid. George said in her address that cutting financial aid is not the answer.

In January the college put $150,000 more into financial aid to help students return for their second semester.

Retention has always been a big issue at Cabrini College in George’s mind. In her first interview with The Loquitur, Dr. George made it clear that during her presidency, the college would see a rise in retention percentages whether it meant changing some residential life rules or a greater help in financial aid to students.

After receiving information following the fall semester, staff at Cabrini worked hard to reach out to students who were planning to withdraw. A good number of those students returned for the spring semester. It is this sense of community that may help Cabrini make it through the economic crisis with success.

She said that every student was contacted so that they could return.

Lisa Plummer, director of Institution Effectiveness, was asked by George to talk about the college’s effectiveness to retain students.

Plummer said that Cabrini’s fall-to-fall retention for the 2008-2009 year would be possibly in the range of 65 to 67 percent.

The national average for comparison schools is about 70 to 72 percent. Plummer said that the college must improve its retention to bring it up to national standards.

According to Stephen Lightcap, vice president for Finance and Administration, who was asked to talk about issues concerning the budget, cuts are being made on anything but financial aid and support.

Lightcap said that budget managers were asked to look very closely at reducing the amount spent on supplies and expenses to squeeze budgets and find another 7.5 percent in savings.

In March, The Board of Trustees, will approve will be shared with department vice presidents and Cabrini will go from there.

However, if there is one thing George has made clear in her State of the Campus Address, it is that Cabrini will do whatever the college can afford in order to keep students enrolling and staying at the college.

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Andrew Stettler

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