Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series that highlighted Wright State University’s current financial state.
FAIRBORN — Wright State Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Fecher highlighted the college’s financial state from his perspective on the board.
“This really is all about the students, but it has to be financially sustainable and that’s the board’s perspective — how do we maximize our mission to students while remaining financial sustainable educational institution with a budget that’s so hard to manage?” Fecher said. “Perhaps the biggest challenge of the university’s budget, and this is not different than the private sector, is when you look at the budget, the expense side of the budget is almost entirely fixed each year … Almost north of 70, maybe 80 percent of the budget is fixed, yet the revenue side is variable. It depends mostly on enrollment.”
Fecher pointed out that Wright State started this year $3.5 million deficit. Enrollment for fall and spring semesters, according to Fecher, created a larger hole. As a result, Fecher said the college is now in need of cutting fixed expenses. He said enrollment over the last few years has “more or less” been flat.
“In the last year, enrollment was down 2.33 percent,” he said.
Fecher highlighted that all the expense categories within Wright State’s financial reports have decreased with an exception to instructional expenses.
“I think that shows good news: we need to focus on the instructional mission of the university,” Fecher said.
He added that while 91 percent of applicants get accepted into the school, only 48 percent of the accepted students show up for class. Therefore, student retention is another avenue Wright State is aiming to improve, according to Fecher. He said applications for this year are up 3-4 percent.
“The budget we had this year, in my mind, is still an emergency budget. It cut things we’re going to have to have back. It’s designed to keep us out of fiscal watch, which had to be done, but this is not a sustainable, going forward budget,” Fecher said. “We’re going to have to work on the revenue side of the budget to … handle the number one priority of the budget, which is to educate our students.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.