Executive Assistant to the President
Bryn Athyn College of the New Church serves as an intellectual center for all who desire to pursue a higher education in the liberal arts and sciences, enriched and structured by the Old and New Testaments and the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The purpose of this education is to enhance students’ civil, moral, and spiritual life, as well as to contribute to human spiritual welfare.
Bryn Athyn College’s Strategic Plan forwards the mission of developing New Church liberal arts education in order to enhance students’ intellectual, moral, civil, and spiritual development, and thereby their ability to bless others. The 2011-16 Plan builds on aspects of the previous plan but also departs from it in specific ways. The 2006-11 Plan brought nine architecturally-beautiful buildings to campus (tripling the number of facilities) and renovated other spaces, decidedly strengthening the visual appeal of the College and improving students’ experience both inside and outside the classroom. Resources were also devoted to recruitment, admissions, and other areas to support a bold drive toward growth. Newcomers to the College have inspired the College community and brought new vitality to the mission. The growth plan lost traction, however, when it committed to projects and high levels of spending without sufficient engagement from the College community or support from its stakeholders. Deficit spending increased; enrollment fell short of targets; and many faculty, donors, and alumni became concerned.
The new plan takes advantage of the new facilities and the confidence they foster that the College is a substantial institution of New Church higher education. We are entering a phase of unapologetic faith in the quality of our education and the value of our religious mission. We are confident in the benefits the College brings not only to its traditional students from Swedenborgian backgrounds but to students from all backgrounds who seek a Bryn Athyn College education. In addition to building on this confidence, the 2011-16 Plan soberly addresses the deficits and the need to enhance our offerings and programs in order to attract and retain students.
Over the next five years, strategic planning in the College focuses on financial stability, relevant education, strengthened enrollment, engaged and proud stakeholders, and a campus that reflects the aesthetic and spiritual values of the people who live, work, and learn here.
Financial stability comes from disciplined reductions in spending as well as innovative explorations of revenue. (See particularly Goal 1 of the Strategic Plan and the Five-year Financial Plan, which sets forth benchmarking strategies and metrics for measuring progress toward goals.) As we impose discipline on spending and discover new ways to use campus spaces and institutional resources to raise money, we expect to make compelling appeals to stakeholders to support the good outcomes they see.
Relevant education (see Goals 2 and 3) means that it is mission related, responsive to students’ interests, and career enhancing. We will continue to keep the focus on New Church teachings in the classroom and in student life, and we will bring new emphasis to our roots in the town of Bryn Athyn and to our heritage more broadly through Swedenborgian history and identity. As finances get steadier we will expand programs, especially hands on learning and internships, to engage students’ passion and launch them on meaningful work. Rather than focusing on a narrow field of employment, our liberal arts degrees prepare students to be effective in a variety of professional settings, able to apply their skills and intellectual powers to enhance and evolve with modern workplaces. We want our students to benefit from their studies here and then to bless the communities they enter elsewhere, becoming productive citizens and active alumni.
Engaged and proud stakeholders (see Goal 5) are the key to and the outcome of a successful college. At this difficult financial time, and having come through a turbulent phase of clashing attitudes about how to grow in order to strengthen mission, we are eager to rebuild our connection to our base. In addition to reconnecting with all our stakeholders, we are nurturing partnerships with the alumni who graduated in the 21st century. What are the values and interests of these 20- and 30-something alumni, and how can we engage them in the work of the College? We need to inspire our alumni to share their talents and to work with us to strengthen the College and its reach into the world.
A Campus that reflects the aesthetic and spiritual values of the people who live, work, and learn here (see Goal 6) is a work in progress. At the same time that we highlight our traditions and history, thus solidifying a sense of place and purpose, we remain flexible and open to the fact that campus cultures change over time. New generations of students reflect changing times; but core beliefs and values build continuity and inspire new applications of foundational truth. We are working with our town’s historic districts and our own campus heritage to enhance the gravitas of the College’s long history and spiritual mission, and we are creating new initiatives around the more recent and burgeoning interest in such areas as sustainability and conservation. Stewardship of our resources (spiritual, financial, historical, physical) is paramount. Wherever possible, we will partner with our town, alumni, and surrounding communities to build rapport through shared values and uses.
Bryn Athyn College’s strategic planning for 2011-16 is spare on rhetoric but anchored in measurable outcomes. It will broadly engage the College community and its stakeholders, building confidence and inspiring creative thought and solutions. Bryn Athyn College offers something that is much needed by the world but not offered anywhere else—New Church liberal arts education. The College focuses on workplace skills; intellectual breadth and incisiveness; moral, civil, and spiritual growth; and a sense of community and purpose that extends across worlds. The work of Bryn Athyn College is profoundly important, and its success will depend upon many people and groups working together, with both humility and audacity, realism and vision.
Kristin King, President
Develop the College’s 2011-16 strategic plan in keeping with the Guiding Principles (listed below). Oversee and coordinate all aspects of the planning process. Modify, update, and communicate the plan as appropriate to keep the College community and stakeholders informed and engaged. Individual members of the committee are additionally responsible for particular goals or areas in terms of leading planning at departmental areas, bringing appropriate objectives to the institutional level, and preparing reports and updates as needed.
During the 2011-16 planning cycle, the College will follow a one-year rolling planning process. The Strategic Planning Committee drafts goals and strategies that are discussed and affirmed by the faculty council and by the board of trustees. These goals and strategies, along with the annual budget and the five-year financial plan, shape the direction of the institution through 2016.
The strategic planning process supports rather than replaces the institution’s regular decision-making practices and procedures. Every strategy in the institutional plan has specific objectives that have been developed and approved by appropriate departments. For example, a proposal for a new academic major will be reviewed and endorsed by the appropriate faculty committees and the faculty council before it is presented to the strategic planning committee for inclusion in the institutional plan. As progress is made or circumstances change, the plan is updated and new objectives are incorporated to keep the planning relevant and moving forward.
Members of the strategic planning committee serve as coordinators for the six goals and
supporting strategies and objectives. All objectives are expected to be SMART (specific,
measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) and should adhere to one or more of the
following criteria to be included at the institutional level:
The six overarching goals of the strategic plan not only shape the institutional level of the plan but inform all levels of operations. Every area of the College keeps the goals in mind and facilitates the strategic plan through the work of its own area. Periodically the president will ask managers how their areas are engaging with the goals of the strategic plan, regardless of whether this activity shows up as objectives at the institutional level of the plan.
Development of the College strategic plan will be coordinated with the planning process for the Academy secondary schools and the historic district through the Academy Strategic Planning Steering Committee.
|Membership of College Strategic Planning Committee|
|Kristin King, President||Kristin.King@brynathyn.edu|
|Daniel Allen, Treasurer||Daniel.Allen@brynathyn.edu|
|Allen Bedford, Dean of Academics and Faculty||Allen.Bedford@brynathyn.edu|
|Kiri Rogers, Dean of Students||Kiri.Rogers@brynathyn.edu|
|Andrew Dibb, Dean of Theological School||Andrew.Dibb@brynathyn.edu|
|Matthew McCaffrey, Dean of Admissions||Matthew.McCaffrey@brynathyn.edu|
|Stephen Cole, Faculty Council Chair Elect||Stephen.Cole@brynathyn.edu|
|John Walko, ANC Trustee|
|David Cooper, Alumni Representative|
|Student Government Representative|
Implement a financial plan that moves the College towards long-term sustainability.
Develop our academic programs and promote signature experiences that engage students and faculty in ever deepening expressions of three fundamentals of human life: freedom, reason, and action.
Enrich students’ physical, social, and spiritual lives through a student life program that is guided by New Church principles.
Expand enrollment by recruiting and retaining students who can contribute to and benefit from the institution’s mission.
Increase the level of support for the College among alumni and friends.
Develop and manage the facilities and grounds to serve the educational, aesthetic, and spiritual values of the College.
The financial plan described below provides a foundation for the College’s 2011-16 strategic plan and a framework for moving the institution towards long-term financial sustainability. Specifically, the model demonstrates how the College can reduce its reliance on the Academy’s endowment in order to return the payout rate to five percent by FY2017.
To return the endowment payout rate to a sustainable level requires very significant growth in program revenue and significant reductions in expense. Improving program revenue depends on increasing enrollment from 227 in FY2012 to 411 in FY2017. An expense reduction of 20% from FY2011 to FY2013 is also required, and three quarters of this reduction has already been made.
In order to achieve the objective of this financial plan there must be a clear and unremitting focus on following through on all of its elements. Crucial in achieving that end is the steady support, both financial and for leadership action, from the key constituencies of the College.
Efforts to expand the size and diversity of the student body and to promote greater awareness of the College throughout the Middle-Atlantic region were the primary focus of the institution’s 2006-11 strategic plan. Approximately $61 million in facilities and landscaping were completed in support of the College’s expansion plans. Additional spending for projects shared with the secondary schools— including the purchase of real estate and upgrades to infrastructure, campus security, and IT—totaled $32.6 million. To finance these improvements, the Academy drew upon endowment funds, borrowed money, and began a capital campaign. The Campaign was to generate $31 million for the Academy as a whole, primarily for these improvements, out of a $50 million total target for the General Church and Academy combined. Through September 30, 2011, about $12 million has been received or pledged towards this goal.
The 2006-11 Academy-wide Plan designated $40 million for growth. This amount grew to $102 million as of the end of FY2010, and $116.6 million by the end of FY2011. The anticipated levels of donations did not come in to sufficiently offset spending. The combination of over spending, weak markets, and lower-than-expected levels of giving has created a precarious financial situation for the College, which the College is now addressing through the strategies listed below. Going forward the College will not use a rolling capital budget, which produced rapid spending with too few of the normal checks and balances, nor will it spend endowment on large projects before appropriate levels of contributions have been secured. Any significant changes to the strategic plan will result from an orderly and collegial system of review and revision. Such a system depends on the informed and appropriate engagement of the board for governance; the president and deans for leadership; and the faculty, staff, and administration for implementation.
Although the College is facing severe financial issues stemming from the accelerated implementation and expanded goals of the previous strategic plan, the College remains committed to growth. In measured and diligent ways the College is strengthening enrollment and retention efforts. The students new to the faith have been an inspiring and positive addition to the campus. We are eager for many more of these students, as well as increasing numbers of New Church-affiliated students. However, enrollment targets that were established under the previous strategic plan were unrealistic and have been revised to target an enrollment of 411 by FY2017.
The plan for financial stability of the College has five distinct, but interrelated, sets of actions:
The plan elements reflected in the table result in a steadily decreasing annual deficit with a break-even position by the fifth year. Related, and a key financial indicator, is the effect of the operating deficits on the endowment assigned to the College. See Table 4 in the section on endowment. Sensitivity analyses have been included in a comprehensive report from Dr. James McGill, showing the impact on results with alternate assumptions.
|Table 1: Summary Financial Plan|
|(Figures in millions by fiscal year and are incremental, compared to projected FY2012 results)|
|FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015||FY 2016||FY 2017|
|Tuition and Fees (net)||0.60||1.33||2.12||3.06||3.90|
|Room and Board (net)||0.14||0.31||0.51||0.64||0.79|
|Alignment of service costs||0.10||0.10||0.10||0.10||0.10|
|Gifts, relief of debt service||1.00||1.00||1.00||1.00||1.00|
|New revenue sources||0.00||0.00||0.25||0.50||0.50|
|Inflation from FY2012||0.22||0.44||0.67||0.90||1.14|
|Projected FY2012 deficit||(5.80)||(5.80)||(5.80)||(5.80)||(5.80)|
|Annual surplus (deficit)||(3.56)||(2.70)||(1.52)||(0.45)||0.40|
Substantially driving the financial considerations are numbers of students, the amount of financial aid awarded, retention rates from year to year, room and board capacity and occupancy, and tuition and fee and room and board charges. Following are explanations of the assumptions for each of these elements reflected in the first two revenue lines in Table 1.
Tuition and Fees (net). A key component of the financial plan is revenue growth from increases in enrollments. Table 2 shows projected enrollment growth.
Admitting the right class (size and characteristics) depends upon an aggressive, focused admissions office, coupled with a right-sized financial aid budget and careful packaging practices. The projected growth in new students is judged reasonable, in light of the significant growth in the number of students admitted in the fall of 2011 (FY2012) versus the prior year, reflecting the beginning of the new approach to recruitment.The significant increase in first year students in the fall of 2011 (up 30% from the prior year) is expected
to continue into fall of 2012. Thereafter, growth in the entering class is assumed to stabilize at a maximum of 140 entering freshmen. The overall retention rate of enrolled students to the fourth year has historically been only about 45%. For the financial plan it is conservatively assumed that this retention rate will grow to 60%. Nationally among private four-year institutions, the graduation rate is about 65%.
|Table 2: Enrollments|
|FY 2012||FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015||FY 2016||FY 2017|
|Tuition and Fee Cost||$16,074||$16,878||$17,722||$18,608||$19,538||$20,515|
The tuition and required fee rate is assumed to grow 5% annually. Comparisons of this rate to a group of competitor colleges suggest that Bryn Athyn College might be able to raise its rate even higher.
To accommodate these levels of students there will need to be some supplements to the faculty numbers. It is assumed that $125,000 per year is added to the on-going budget, beginning in FY2013, peaking at a total increment of $500,000 in FY2016. It is also assumed that capital expenditures of $400,000 are required to re-purpose some space to add some additional classrooms. This amount is included in the plan as a draw upon endowment principal.
The table also shows the financial aid discount rate. The figure is the fraction of the institutional revenues that are used to reduce the sticker price of tuition and required fees (“gross tuition”). Net tuition is the gross revenue, less institutional financial aid. The FY2012 discount rate (excluding financial aid for room and board from institutional aid for tuition) is expected to be 38%, which yields a net tuition of about $10,000. Net tuition is low relative to several measures: the apparent student demographic for the College, comparator institutions, and less-than-efficacious past practices in packaging aid. This plan assumes that the institutional discount rate will decrease to 27% by FY2017 and the net tuition will improve to around $15,000 per student, an amount that will still be in the lower quartile of private institutions in our area. In addition to the institutional financial aid, there are other external sources, notably the Federal and Commonwealth governments which will provide in excess of another one million dollars annually in aid.
Room and Board (net). For the fall of 2012, 169 beds were occupied or about 74% of the enrolled students. The current rate charged students is low relative to peers and does not reflect the value of the quality of the facilities. The plan raises the rates from the current level of $8,846 to $9,771 next year and 5% annually thereafter. The financial model assumes that as enrollments grow, so will occupancy of the dorms, maintaining the rate of 70% of the total students until the bed capacity is reached. It is assumed that beds will be added by refurbishing properties near the campus. The estimated $120,000 cost of doing so is funded by a draw on the endowment. The annual discount rate for room and board charges is expected to improve from current percentages of approximately 55% to 35%. Food and other costs per student are expected to grow from current levels of approximately $4,000 per student by an inflation rate of 2% per annum.
|Table 3: Room and Board|
|FY 2012||FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015||FY 2016||FY 2017|
|Occupancy (97% max)||169||181||215||233||239||239|
Several difficult actions have already been implemented to reduce the College’s costs, notably and substantially reduction in administration. The senior management team has been unremittingly focused on cost reduction during FY2011 and into FY2012. With the leadership of the President of the College, the Managing Director of ANCSS, and the ANC CFO and Treasurer, the annualized cost reductions will have totaled about $1.8 million by the end of the current fiscal year. Limited additional reductions in benefits, staffing, and other areas are planned in FY2013 and beyond.
Table 4 displays the effects of the five actions (listed on p. 2) on the status of the endowment principal. The FY2012 beginning balance is an assumed number based on the ANC Board’s February 2012 determination of endowment allocation to each division and on current endowment value. The figure used here is considered to be a reasonable estimate. An annual investment return of 8% is assumed.
By FY2016, the endowment begins to grow again, and the endowment payout rate falls below 5% in FY2017.
|Table 4: College Endowment|
|FY 2012||FY 2013||FY 2014||FY 2015||FY 2016||FY 2017|
At the February 2012 ANC Board meeting, the board determined that the debt is to be serviced by a set aside portion of the endowment beyond the endowment allocated to the divisions. As a result, debt payment is not included in Table 4. $60MM of the endowment corpus has been set aside to make principal and interest payments. Though no longer a piece of the College’s financial plan, the debt service could affect the College’s finances in significant ways. In FY2018, the swap cost comes off the largest portion of our external debt. This may result in interest expense reductions. In FY2025, all debt will be retired. The total debt service currently is $5.2MM annually. The amount will actually vary from year to year as the variable-rate debt cost shifts with market interest rates and as the current swap moves to expiration in FY2018. The cost now is about 5% annually. Any realized decrease in the cost of debt will be passed back to the divisions, with the College receiving 50% of the benefit. Conversely, 50% of any realized increase in the cost of the debt will be passed to the College.
An essential part of establishing and maintaining the viability of the College is raising funds from private donors. Table 1 shows additional giving to be provided for operations or for the College’s share of debt service—$1.5 million in FY2013 growing to $2M in FY2017. These contributions reflect the critical need to raise dollars originally assumed in the forecasts for the Academy’s prior strategic plan. In the prior plan, we had assumed we would raise $61 million over 15 years for construction and other Academy initiatives from the capital campaign and from estates. At the beginning of FY2012, we still needed to collect, Academy-wide, $5 million in pledges and deferred gifts plus an additional $49 million in order to achieve the $61 million goal. To achieve these fundraising goals, the President must have appropriate support available to her to effectively approach, propose, and steward donors. Some additional staff support for this purpose is included in the fund-raising line in Table 1.
There is apparent demand for renting some of the current facilities for conferences, camps, and other activities, including overnight events during the summer months. These options will be explored.
In addition to rental revenue from existing facilities, the Academy should explore the possible development, lease, or sale of land. The financial plan assumes some net revenue flow beginning in the third year of the plan and increasing modestly thereafter. We recommend that the board engage real estate consulting expertise to evaluate and implement these strategies for the benefit of the College and Secondary Schools. The plan (Table 1) assumes that 50% of the revenue from real estate would be available to the College.
There are some critical additional expenditures that need to be undertaken as part of the strategic plan. The President needs to have about $250,000 to staff her fund-raising activities and to add to funds otherwise being reallocated for a new financial support position for the College. It is assumed that these funds will be provided by direct donor support for the first three years. They are reflected in the plan’s assumption of annual operating support.
As noted above, there are some added faculty costs because of the increase in enrollments, as well as modest capital expenditures.
The financial plan shows a balanced operating budget by FY2017, accompanied by a turnaround in endowment principal. We believe these results are achievable with undivided focus and decisive implementation. This financial plan will drive College decision-making as we strive to return to sustainability.
1The Theological School is not included in this financial plan as arrangements are being made for setting aside endowment to cover its operations.