February 2010

“It is to preserve the extraordinary qualities we see around us every day—dedication to creative and intellectual pursuits, the rigorous preparation of young people to be actively involved in the world, and the strong connections inside and outside the community—that we must continue to take steps to conserve Vassar’s resources and strengthen its future.” –President Catharine Bond Hill

Like every institution of higher education in the United States, Vassar has been deeply affected by the global economic downturn that began in 2008. The college’s endowment—the source of nearly one-third of Vassar’s annual operating support—is estimated to have fallen about $189 million between July 2008 and July 2009 resulting from investment losses and spending of $47 million. As a result, distributions from the endowment to support Vassar’s operating budget must be reduced, or they will erode the value of the endowment at an unsustainable rate.

At the same time, both the incoming freshman class of 2013 and continuing students in the classes of 2010, ’11, and ’12 are showing increased levels of demonstrated financial need, which Vassar is committed to meeting fully for all four years of a student’s enrollment at the college.

To address these financial challenges and ensure Vassar’s financial strength, the Board of Trustees, the college administration, and a number of governance committees have been working to develop and implement responsible plans to conserve resources, while preserving the values inherent in Vassar’s educational mission. This planning has been shared with the community in various contexts and at various points so that it can be developed with the benefit of informed conversations among different constituencies. Much of the material in this website reflects the work of these groups and individuals.

Vassar is establishing this website as part of the planning process. It provides a central location to inform the community about the college’s financial status as well as about its emerging plans for conserving its resources and strengthening its future. Here you’ll find background information on the college’s endowment, revenue and expense categories, and its budget planning process. Additionally, the site contains answers to frequently asked questions, along with messages from President Catharine Bond Hill concerning steps either taken or under consideration as the college addresses its economic challenges. Much of the information in the site has been presented in meetings during the 2008/09 academic year; additional information is the result of the planning being carried out by various committees and groups.