Other local colleges deny financial problems, point to successful strategies

2013-04-01T00:00:00Z Other local colleges deny financial problems, point to successful strategiesCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

While Purdue University Calumet is facing a deficit this year, other local colleges say they are not having any financial problems.

Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for administration at Purdue University North Central at Westville, said enrollment levels at PNC for fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters met or exceeded projections. He said enrollment revenue for the fiscal year is sufficient to meet the university's budget.

"While we do continually pursue opportunities to become more efficient, we are not at present looking to reduce programs, faculty, staff or facilities," he said.

Indiana University Northwest has managed its resources carefully and there will not be a deficit going into fiscal year 2014, said Chancellor William Lowe.

Still, Lowe acknowledged of steadily reduced state dollars and strictly limited tuition increases of 2 to 3 percent in the last five years placed pressure on the revenues available to publicly supported Indiana higher education.

"As part of the campus’s continuous improvement efforts to be efficient and financially responsible, IU Northwest looks for areas in which dollars can be saved without compromising academic quality and student opportunities," Lowe said.

IU Northwest’s full- and part-time enrollment over the last four years has been stable. Since 2008, IU Northwest’s student body has been consistently composed of two-thirds full-time students and one-third part-time students.

IU Northwest is pursuing a moderate enrollment-growth strategy to support the programs students’ desire and the academic and support services they require to complete their degrees, Lowe said, adding the projections for fall 2013 look positive.

Karen Williams, Ivy Tech Community College Northwest spokeswoman, said by college rules, each region must manage its budget to ensure revenues and expenditures remain in balance, and Ivy Tech is not allowed to accrue a deficit.

"We do look at operations and make adjustments," she said. "Minor cost-related reductions have been absorbed through salary savings from the elimination of open faculty and staff positions."

She said over the course of this fiscal year, July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013, the college absorbed approximately seven positions, mostly staff and clerical positions.

Nicole Niemi, Valparaiso University spokeswoman, said the independent Lutheran university with nearly 4,000 students, is financially healthy.

"VU is growing," she said. "The university continued to surge in enrollment last fall and is experiencing record-level interest for the fall 2013 semester."

She said any money-saving cuts are implemented in relation to the university's strategic plan to be a more sustainable campus. For instance, she said, VU uses energy-efficient lighting, recycles and constructs new buildings to meet LEED standards.

"The university is not closing buildings," Niemi said. "In fact, the opposite is true. The Welcome Center construction is in the final stages and will be open soon. ... and Valpo is moving toward implementation of the first steps of our Campus Master Plan, which includes more construction."

Niemi said the total spring enrollment is at its highest level since spring 1982 at 3,975 students. The spring undergraduate enrollment is at its highest level since the spring of 1992 at 2,890 students.

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