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Fall Conversation: a re-cap

November 12, 2010


They came, they sat, they conversed. President Scott Bierman spoke to a full house Wednesday in Moore Lounge, addressing topics ranging from ugly Christmas sweaters (if you have one, he wants you to wear it, next Friday, for a family-style Christmas-card photo) to the more serious matters of budgetary health and campus improvements.

Below, a synopsis:


Bierman welcomed new faculty and staff to campus, saying he enjoyed meeting all of the new additions and trusted their finding Beloit College to be as great “as advertised.”


“We know that enrollments this fall are strong—we expect to average about 1,250 for the full academic year,” Bierman said. “We develop a budget based on around 1,200 so we’re looking comfortable.”

The endowment has made a rebound; in the heyday of 2007-08, it reached $130 million, while in the depths of 2009, it was at $80 million, he said. Now, it sits at $110 million, meaning “We’ve bounced back pretty nicely,” he says. On the expense side, we are being very disciplined, finishing the 2009-2010 fiscal year with every single division of the college coming in under budget, about which the president is pleased.

The big news of the day had to do with the “Classic. Daring. Life-changing.” campaign. The external affairs office has just passed the goal of raising $100 million, which have helped fund everything from scholarships and building improvements to the operating budget, programs like the Upton Forum and Weissberg Chair, and buildings like the Science Center and Hendricks Center for the Arts. A celebration of the end of the campaign will occur this spring.

New Vice President for External Affairs, Jeff Puckett, and his staff are already gearing up for the next major campaign. Asked about the next objective, Bierman assured the crowd that we would establish an ambitious goal.

And, if you donated in hopes of seeing your name on a brick, “A brick you shall get,” the president said, but where those bricks shall go is yet to be determined. (The brick project was a part of the on-campus effort associated with the last campaign.)

The president also addressed salaries as a part of his budgetary discussion. Though he said it cautiously, (explaining “We don’t know for certain what the 2011-12 budget is going to look like,”) Bierman said raises, however modest, are likely next fiscal year for faculty and staff.

“My best guess, and what we presented to the trustees this fall, was a very preliminary budget…has modest, but positive, increases in compensation for next year,” he said.

Campus improvements: ‘Renewing the Historic Core’

Bierman also discussed a handful of physical changes to the campus.  He noted that the college has successfully closed out phase one of its latest Master Plan. Attention to the physical campus is important, he said, because this is “home” for our students. “People, programs, and yes, places, matter,” he said.

As evidence, he pointed to the addition of the Hendricks Center, the work outside the library and Eaton Chapel, and the new roof (which he noted for both being overdue and a “beautiful” adornment) on M-I. He also explained that the work on WAC was being funded by parents, and that the Parents Fund has committed to helping to renew the campus’s “Historic Core.”

Also highlighted on Wednesday afternoon:

- the college’s receipt this fall of several grants, including one from the Dept. of Education for TRIO-SSS, a National Science Foundation grant for new anthropology lab space, and a Mellon Foundation grant for Labs Across the Curriculum

- a new faculty chair in human and physical geography has been established, and will be held by Associate Professor of Geology Sue Swanson. The chair is being funded by a large gift from alumna, the Reverend Marta Weeks.

- the college will host a new summer outreach program for high school students, letting them earn one Beloit College unit of credit. The program will be piloted this coming summer in two three-week sessions (in June and July).

The president covered a lot of ground during this conversation, but summed up the fall term thus far simply: “That strikes me as a pretty healthy semester at Beloit College,” he said.