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President Simmons Informs about the effect of the economy on Brown

modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
edited February 2009 in Brown University
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Replies to: President Simmons Informs about the effect of the economy on Brown

  • The_B_Of_LivingThe_B_Of_Living Registered User Posts: 154 Junior Member
    ugh, at least they're not cutting financial aid. But their halt on expansion is going to lover their acceptance rate significantly :(

    sucks to be us, eh?
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    The expansion was never going to be of the undergraduates-- we were specifically expanding faculty and Ph.D. candidates in the graduate school through the Plan for Academic Enrichment. And although class size has risen lately, that has largely been the result of better yield than predicted.
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    The good news is that tuition increases are going to be "below that projected." So, unlike public/state schools, tuition increases will be modest (this year was 3.9 percent).

    As modestmelody said, the halt on expansion is hitting the graduate school. This does have impact on the undergrads, since graduate students TA large lecture classes.

    It is sad that more faculty won't be hired.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Yeah, I think the faculty hiring, and potential need for some departments to shift positions to address teaching needs could be really difficult.

    On the other hand, we're having serious trouble with scheduling since the number of undergraduate courses have almost doubled since 2000 and the amount of space on campus for instruction has nowhere near followed suit. So we're running out of classes we can offer simply due to space issues-- we're running about maximum in the most popular time slots.

    That being said, these reductions right now seem modest, but I expect there to be more serious and drastic changes if we don't see a significant change in the economic environment in the next year or so.

    Hopefully, Congress will increase the tax incentives available for contributing to universities to try and offset the economics woes felt across the board in higher ed not just due to the economy, but also due to the continuing trend of severely reducing government funds being redistributed into higher education institutions.

    I bet we'll see a lot of smaller and newer schools fail or merge in the next couple of years.
  • MiPerson80MiPerson80 Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    my company is predicting a 3+ year recession (starting now), so Brown's low endowment will be an issue of concern
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    MiPerson-- question. What has caused you to suddenly come on the Brown page and rag us about our financial situation?
  • franglishfranglish Registered User Posts: 2,308 Senior Member
    Jason-- given your own recent posts about continuing in Brown's grad school next year, I hope you own personal plans will not have to be changed. Do you think the changes will be apparent to admitted students in the grad school, or just in the planned increase in its size?
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Well they've already frozen the stipend/not raised the stipend for graduate students, and that seems to have been accepted quietly at the moment by the students in my lab. It's hard for me to predict how the graduate school will be affected-- I think similarly little will change, however, for graduate students, this can have more sweeping effects due to cost of living changes, and already strained set of TAs...

    It hasn't changed my plans because I'm moving forward under the assumption that I have to absorb 100% of the cost of graduate school. Luckily, because of my financial aid package from Brown, I'm leaving only about 20k in debt entirely in Federal loans and I could have paid a good bit of those off in cash if necessary (but why not take such low interest loans?). So I'm comfortable with the idea of "affording" graduate school on my own and dealing with that debt-- I made that choice. However, there is still a good chance I'll get money off, I'll find out soon.

    The thing is since I'm going to a master's program everything changes-- terminal master's programs are dealt with entirely internally at each department and don't have funding connections back to the graduate school or university at large.

    Thanks for asking.
  • MiPerson80MiPerson80 Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    I see the posts on the endowment issues for the top private schools but I don't believe the schools with the low endowments (like Brown and G'town) are being upfront (or transparent as Obama says) about their financial situation. The students and parents are going to be the ones to pay for these issues.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Why is it your business if they're being transparent? You do realize our endowment is still like 20th in the country?

    Also, considering two of my best friends are the URC representatives that set the university budget, I can tell you that everything that has been announced is precisely accurate.

    I didn't realize you were on the Brown boards suddenly as a champion for transparency.
  • Prov13Prov13 - Posts: 44 Junior Member
    if a school with a $2b investment is in trouble, then god save the schools that only have a $100m!

    what i think is going on here is miperson got rejected from brown, or goes to a ****ty college with a small endowment so it makes him feel go to pretend he knows what he's talking about.

    most schools only wish they could have as much money as brown.
  • MiPerson80MiPerson80 Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    but the big questions is how much of the endowment of Brown is "illiquid"
  • icebox4icebox4 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    the acidity of recent posts gotta stop, please.

    modestmelody, i've talked to my friends in Brown's graduate program (Economics, Mathematics), and across the board they're reporting a decline in fully-funded PhD offers this year. this is further complicated by stricter fellowship criteria imposed on incoming and current students. nothing that is completely unexpected, i suppose.

    MiPerson80, I would be interested if you can break down how the 'small' endowment will cause problems to Brown. Sure, seems like we're getting poorer, but your claim requires knowledge of Brown's planned capital spending going forward, something that I don't know crap about. You made a point about Brown's endowment being locked up with money managers, however from my knowledge conversing with the people who run the thing, it's quite liquid.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    The majority of Brown's endowment is illiquid like all schools. Like all "endowments" we don't actually look to turn around and spend 2B tomorrow, we use a percentage of it each year as a portion of our budget. As stated all over the place, Brown's been quite transparent, right now, with our current estimates, we're going to fall 60M short of our projected expenses over the course of five years due to the economy. We're going to recover approximately 30M with the measures outlined thus far, and we're investigating means to save the other 30M we're going to need assuming things are not getting any better.

    I'm not trying to add acidity, I'm just wondering what insider information or specific insight MiPerson has that suddenly he's on the Brown boards talking vaguely about how we're *****ed-- I haven't seen any new information or added points that are specific to Brown in any way.


    Btw, liquid v. illiquid I think is being defined poorly right now. If by liquid you mean that Brown can go get 2B in hundreds tomorrow if they wanted to, than you'd be right, it's quite illiquid. If you mean illiquid as in Brown can not maneuver it's investments and redirect its portfolio and redesign the way we invest, than you'd be wrong. The endowment is not liquid assets in the sense that it's as good as getting the cash tomorrow, but it's not stuck invested where it is, nor is it impossible or even difficult to raise the amount we draw out of the endowment by a percent or so if we need to.

    In the past, we've drawn a little over 4% out of the endowment on average, IIRC. It would not be a problem to draw 5% if we needed to, but Brown is definitely going to try and avoid raising that number substantially since our goal is still to grow the endowment long term.

    The question is whether we'll take action like Dartmouth and essentially dismiss as much administrative and support staff as possible or look at a more creative/radical restructuring to control costs. Brown's not being opaque about these decisions, we just haven't made any yet. The process has been finalized only up to the point that has been announced thus far. Other ideas are being floated for the remaining 30M but nothing has been decided yet so we haven't announced anything yet.


    Unlike MiPerson, I actually have some knowledge specific to Brown and that belongs on the Brown board. A general, "you're *****ed" message to "small endowment schools" based on conjecture without knowing anything about what the money situation actually is at Brown is basically **** and I'm trying to figure out why MiPerson is **** the Brown boards.
  • MiPerson80MiPerson80 Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    I am not picking on Brown but the whole issue of the endowments with the top private schools. If you read other posts and also news articles, there is not a lot honesty by the top private schools on their financial situations in regards to their endowments. Yale led the way with the investment in illiquid assets, which were great in the "boom" years, and the rest of the private schools then followed suit, and the academic arms race (encouraged by USNMWR rankings) started the over funding of research, travel abroad programs, overpaying for "name" professors, excessive athlectic facilities , fancy buildings, etc..., and then the refusal of these schools to use 5% of their endowments for student aid.

    So what is the end results? students and parents are expected to take on debt, but with the housing collapse and lack of credit, this is very difficult , and now with the job market being poor, can these students find jobs to pay off the debt?

    I wish 20 years ago, the whole USNWR rankings hadn't started, this is what caused the cost of these schools to now approach $50K, and they expect upper middle class families to pay the full freight. The government needs to step in and investigate "why" $50K/year. I went to a top private school, when I graduated it was about $8K/yr for R&B and tuition, and with the rate of inflation, it should be $17K/yr now , and lets be generous, and say there is value for a top private school, and doublke that to $34K/yr....but the cost is now$49K./yr?

    WHY?

    But now with the endowments being way down and very illiquid (watch if schools are trying to sell bonds). we "all" are in a difficult situation.
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