President's Forum Highlights

March 21, 2015

FY16 Budget, Fall Enrollment Outlook Focus of President's Forum

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., opened the forum by expressing his appreciation for the law school's recent groundbreaking work on homeless rights  and the upcoming graduation of the first Muslim imam from the School of Theology and Ministry, further underscoring its leadership in fostering interreligious dialogue. The president also touched on other ranking and recognition high points  of the past year and noted that Seattle University has received commitments for its two largest gifts  ever, with a third on its way that is higher than any in previous years. 

With the end of the academic year quickly approaching, Father Steve emphasized the importance of taking time to reflect, put into perspective and discern the realities of the academic year for the university and what we can take forward from it as we look to the fall. He invited faculty and staff to share their thoughts with him. 

The president then turned to Chief Financial Officer Connie Kanter to provide an overview of the final, recently approved FY16 budget. Dean of Admissions Melore Nielsen provided an update on the fall enrollment outlook. 

Later in the forum, Fr. Steve discussed work that will be done in consultation with broader university leadership over the summer to more fully align the Strategic Plan , the repositioning of our finances and the capital campaign, with the vision or goal for what SU will look like in 2020. He noted that an assessment of all university programs is a key part of the endeavor. 

Below are some highlights on the budget and enrollment. You can watch the full video of the forum here.    

Final FY16 Budget

The Board of Trustees approved the final FY16 budget in early May. The final version changed very little from previous updates shared with the campus community. It was completed after a new extended process was put in place that allowed for deeper campus engagement and included the creation of the Budget Consultation Group, in addition to the Budget Advisory Committee, to provide additional input. 

CFO Kanter began by noting that a more detailed overview of the budget can be found on the university's budget office website . She then reviewed budgeted enrollment goals and revenue, tuition rates and new funding dedicated to market equity pay. There was also discussion on new academic programs and the new ERP, which is a technology solution for optimizing the way the university operates, works together and delivers a wide range of services. She concluded by pointing out the more conservative approach to the FY16 budget, including the addition of a contingency, or volatility, fund and some of the challenges in preparing the budget. 

Fr. Steve later added that the university will restore $2 million of capital reserves with the number of continuing students this year exceeding expectations. This restores a majority of the funding that was needed from capital reserves to help balance the FY15 budget. 

2015-16 Enrollment Outlook

Although the numbers are still preliminary, there was much excitement and applause for the good news around fall enrollment. Given the current number of confirmed first-time-in-college students, Nielsen shared that the university is now projecting one of our largest freshman classes ever-between 1,010 to 1,025 students with a strong academic profile. While SU saw an increase in applications, most peers saw a decrease. Although the numbers are tracking slightly behind, Admissions believes it will achieve its goal for transfer students. And while it is still too early to know with certainty, the university is expecting to meet its overall graduate enrollment goal.