Adjustments Continue in Wake of Graduate Enrollment Declines

New cost containment efforts underway to balance budgets.

Adjustments Continue in Wake of Graduate Enrollment Declines
January 26, 2015 1:00 p.m.

In a message Monday to unit heads and finance directors at the George Washington University, Provost Steven Lerman and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz underscored that declining graduate enrollments and higher than budgeted expenses in schools and divisions require additional cost containment strategies to enable continued investment in strategic and academic priorities. 

As a tuition-dependent university, enrollment revenues are critical to funding operations. While undergraduate enrollments have been robust, reductions in graduate enrollment levels have required off-setting measures to balance budgets. While recent improvements in fundraising and cost containment actions implemented earlier this year are helping, we need to do more, Dr. Lerman and Mr. Katz explained.

These measures will include a continuation of a central approval process that delays staff hiring and an increase in the required delay in filling approved positions from three to six months. Schools and divisions are also being asked to reduce travel and training expenses for FY 2015.

“We believe increasing our cost management actions along with efforts to grow enrollment strikes the right balance between cost management and investing in our future,” underscored Dr. Lerman and Mr. Katz.

Dr. Lerman and Mr. Katz emphasized that investments in improving the university’s infrastructure, such as the Science and Engineering Hall, newly opened Colonial Health Center and the District House residence hall under construction, are unaffected as they are funded as part of multi-year capital budgets. Likewise, GW’s recent bond offering was part of the university’s overall financial strategy to refinance debt at lower interest rates and invest in capital projects that are important to the future of the university. These are long-term enhancements to the university that will provide benefits for many years to come, in contrast to the short-term operating budget shortfall that they believe can be managed by reducing expenditures.

At the same time, efforts are underway to increase graduate enrollment, including creating additional on-campus and online programs that may appeal to a broader range of potential graduate students both nationally and internationally.  As Dr. Lerman stated in a story published in April in George Washington Today, “We offer outstanding opportunities for graduate study across many fields and will continue to work to recruit high caliber students from around the world to George Washington.”