President Fox Opens Academic Year With ‘Grounded Optimism’

August 25, 2010

A balanced budget, record enrollment, and recent national recognition fueled President Pamela Fox’s announcement August 25 that the new academic year at Mary Baldwin is beginning with a sense of “grounded optimism.” The theme guided Fox’s annual State of the College address to faculty and staff, which included praise for the collaborative work that launched four new Schools of Excellence this fall and details about college-wide goals for the next five years.

Looking toward 2015, three objectives will guide Mary Baldwin: a 25 percent growth in enrollment, attracting resources to transform Hunt Hall into a true student center and to renovate Pearce Science Center, and ensuring academic excellence by creating new graduate programs and strengthening existing majors and minors.

“I believe that no college president in the United States stands before her colleagues today with greater gratitude or with greater certainly that our direction is the right one,” Fox said.

Higher enrollment in adult and graduate programs, a successful utilities savings plan, revenue from the on-campus bookstore, and careful expense management in all departments helped the college reconcile a projected $1.3 million budget shortfall for 2009–10, according to David Mowen, senior vice president for business and finance.

Several fundraising efforts also positively impacted the college’s bottom line. The 2010 Reunion Challenge contributed more than $403,000 to the Annual Fund — exceeding the goal for the program by nearly $70,000. Student phonathon callers also went beyond their target to raise an additional $188,000 for the Annual Fund. In addition, Mary Baldwin reached a fundraising milestone this spring — the halfway mark of the Campaign for Mary Baldwin.

Mary Baldwin’s largest freshman class to date in the undergraduate residential College for Women will help the college work toward a balanced budget in 2010–11, Fox said. Mary Baldwin welcomed 320 new first-year students for the academic year that begins August 30. The incoming class numbered 278 in fall 2009.

Leveraging our “positional advantage” will all sustain Mary Baldwin’s financial health. The college has a well-established Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, an ethnically diverse student body, and strong graduate programs — programs that other institutions may need to create to attract new groups of students in the coming years. Another advantage is Mary Baldwin’s recognition for academic excellence. Fox noted that the college ranked 27th among regional universities in the South in U.S. News & World Report and 8th in Washington Monthly’s list of master’s-level universities dedicated to research and service, both released in the past week.

Fox also stressed that Mary Baldwin’s focus on women in higher education is “a major opportunity going forward. It is inspiring to seize the opportunity of being the women’s university in the United States in the 21st century.”

In closing, Fox encouraged faculty and staff to enjoy each other as they work together. “We are doing important work for our nation and world. And we are doing it extraordinarily well.”