Finance & Administration
BRONTÈ BURLEIGH-JONES, VICE PRESIDENT FOR FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
Thanks to disciplined budgeting, the Division of Finance & Administration helped the college increase its cash reserves while continuing to enhance the Dickinson experience. At the end of fiscal year 2015-16, the college held $5.4 million in general reserves, $2.1 million in healthcare reserves, and $4.3 million in strategic reinvestment funding, $3.75 million of which has been allocated to identified one-time projects, leaving a balance of $560,000 for future needs. Along with a solid enrollment performance, this strong financial management helped Dickinson earn a “positive” outlook and an “A+” bond rating from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.
Throughout the year, the division also made significant progress on the following:
- New Residence Hall: Design and construction documentation were concluded in summer 2016. Construction is slated to start in spring 2017, and the new building is expected to open in fall 2018.
- Bond Refinancing: The college refinanced series 2006 and part of series 2007 bonds, resulting in a savings of $8.4 million on a net-present-value basis. We anticipate another bond financing in spring 2017 to refinance the remaining 2007 bonds along with the issuance of new money for the residence hall project.
- Sustainability: The college continued to make progress on its 2020 carbon neutrality target, mitigating 986 MTCO2e during the fiscal year. We also entered into a power purchasing agreement with SolarCity to install a 3.0 megawatt solar array to the west of Dickinson Park. The project will reduce utility costs over the 25-year contract term while reducing annual carbon emissions by 2,500 MTCO2e.
- Facilities Conditions Assessment: A campuswide comprehensive facilities conditions assessment investigated nearly every building last year to provide a snapshot of current conditions, estimated correction costs and recommended action dates. The resulting report will serve as the basis for a strategic investment plan over the next 10 years.
- Salary Study: This summer, all employees were informed on the category and tier placement for their position in the new salary structure. This completed the first phase in the college’s salary study implementation. For phases two and three, the goal is to prevent salary compression and address the salaries of employees who have worked for the college for more than one year. Additional funding to support phases two and three is dependent upon budgetary considerations.
Dickinson’s pooled endowment, the portion of the endowment managed by the college’s outsourced investment office, Investure, ended the 2016 fiscal year (July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016) at $338 million. Although this valuation reflects a one-year loss of 4.4 percent, the pooled endowment continues to perform well over the long term, with a three-year average annual return of 5.6 percent, a five-year average annual return of 6.6 percent and a 10-year average annual return of 6.7 percent.
This long-term performance compares favorably to the college’s passive benchmark (made up of a combination of the MSCI All Country World Index and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Treasury 7-10 Year Index) and falls within a percentage point of the college’s strategic goal of spending plus inflation (5 percent spending plus the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent). By performing well against these measures, the college ensures the endowment’s intergenerational equity.
Spending from the endowment provided $18.4 million in funding to Dickinson in fiscal year 2016, making an impact on the affordability of the college, the academic program, student-faculty research, athletics, facilities and much more.
Note: Dickinson’s endowment is composed of the pooled endowment, which is managed as part of a consortium of colleges and universities by Investure, and the nonpooled endowment, which consists of funds held in trust for the college, endowed pledges and other assets. The pooled endowment makes up roughly 80 percent of the total endowment, while the nonpooled assets make up the remaining 20 percent. To balance present needs with future stability, Dickinson spends 5 percent of the endowment’s prior 12 quarters’ average balance each year to support the budget and restricted funds. The college employs this disciplined spending strategy to ensure that the endowment meets today’s needs while continuing to provide a foundation for the future.