Budgets in the black, improvements on the horizon

By Jonathan Salamanca

September 4, 2013

A year that ended in a financially belt-tightening situation is now looking better.
A shortfall in enrollment at the undergraduate and graduate level last year forced administration to cut costs across the university.  Staff and faculty positions that were left vacant midyear, as well as some savings in the operational funds, totaled a savings of about $600,000. These savings helped offset the revenue shortfall, according to Amy McCormack, senior vice president of finance and administration at Dominican.

After expenses were paid, the university was left with $400,000 of the $80 million budgeted for the past fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, which began in July, the university experienced an enrollment of over 500 new freshmen, which exceeded the administration’s projection of 415 students.  

The $400,000 will be funneled back into the university, either in the form of a quasi-endowment, which supports student scholarships, or in the form of funding for new initiatives or academic programs.

“We’ll probably use some of it for startup expenses as we talk about new program development,” McCormack said. “We’re pursuing accreditation for a nursing program, so that would be the most likely use of that money.”

This year, the university has budgeted $84 million for the fiscal year, a $4 million increase from last year. Some of the increase in budget has allowed for the hiring of four new faculty members. Maintenance work has also taken effect around campus, including the $1 million project to replace air conditioning units, fans, controls and ducts in the Fine Arts building. All of these projects were completed over the summer.

Among that $1 million project, a $4,000 renovation has been made to promote sustainability and safety through the introduction of energy efficient lights that brighten the space in the Dining and Social Halls. The $4,000 renovation also included new tabletops in the Dining Hall and tuckpointing done to the outside of Mazzucchelli Hall.

Additionally, new windows were installed along the Cloister Walk and Rosary Chapel. To improve the quality of campus events, new speakers were also installed in the Dining and Social Halls.  

“All of this is deferred maintenance,” McCormack said. “It’s work that needed to be done but kept deferring. Some of air unit equipment in Fine Arts hadn’t been replaced since the ‘50s. The new units serve the Lund Auditorium.”

These renovations are just a small mark for further improvements. According to McCormack, Dominican is in the “silent phase” of a capital campaign to seek funding for expansion. The proposed expansion is to take place north of the kitchen to make room for a new student commons and support service area. The expansion includes a two or three-story building with a new kitchen.

Kathie Barajas, vice president of University Advancement and leader of the capital campaign, said Dominican is in the very early stages of the campaign. Barajas hopes to share more information with the community in the coming weeks.