St. Mary's College of Maryland

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Lee Capristo, editor
The Mulberry Tree
Phone: (240) 895-4795
18952 East Fisher Road
St. Mary's City, MD 20686

A Letter from the Acting President

The daily paper and the nightly news are relentless reminders of the difficulties we all are facing in this current economic recession. It seems at times that the bad news out-shouts the good news and we might lose the rallying spirit that characterizes this country.

Yet at St. Mary’s, we have plenty of good news to share. Our students are outstanding for their good works in hard times: The Student Government Association and student body made a $20,000 gift to the Emergency Assistance Fund (the fund that provides help for students who have had sudden, dramatic changes to their financial situation because of the weak economy), then challenged the Board of Trustees and the alumni to do the same (and they did). Their help in this time of need has meant that 21 students, who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education at St. Mary’s, can do so.

Though budgets are a constant worry, we can report some good news on that front, too. Through careful fiscal management, we completed the fiscal year (ending June 30, 2009) with a small surplus. This budget “in the black” was the combined result of continued strong student enrollments, a wide range of cost-containment efforts, and strong day-to-day financial management. This summer, our debt rating was reaffirmed at A2 by Moody’s; that means we persist with the same solid financial health that we had at the beginning of the economic recession. We are working with a balanced budget for the 2010 fiscal year as well.

However, like so many other colleges and universities across the nation, our Foundation’s endowment has lost significant value. The earnings on endowment are what traditionally fund named scholarships and endowed professorships. This year, the College is meeting those obligations from its own funds because the endowment funds have not recovered enough to meet the need. We wait, with everyone else, for markets to turn around. During this wait, we’ve started a Revenue Committee with subcommittees studying and making recommendations on cost containment, revenue generation, tuition setting, and endowment earnings.

We are grateful to our former president, Maggie O’Brien, for helping create a place where the community is a vital part of our success, as in the River Concert Series and the Center for the Study of Democracy. We think our next president will find plenty to be proud of at St. Mary’s. Thank you for your part in making it so.

Larry Vote