Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 29
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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While Endowment Declines, University Gifts Soar

Dilshanie Perera

Princeton University’s fiscal year having ended on June 30, it is estimated that the institution’s endowment will be down 25 percent. The actual fiscal year-end figure will be available in the fall.

In the spring, due to the uncertain economic climate, the University changed its estimate of the endowment’s decline to 30 percent for budget planning purposes. University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt said that “it looks now that we’ll be closer to the originally projected 25 percent.”

“We could come in a bit better than that,” she admitted, adding that they “won’t know definitely until September, which is the time we typically release our year-end fiscal figures.”

The University’s cost-savings plan remains the same, with a goal of cutting $170 million from the operating budget over two years, with a reduction of $88 million in 2010, and $82 million in 2011.

The value of the endowment for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, was $16.3 billion.

The University’s operating budget for the 2008 fiscal year was $1.2 billion, with that of the past year valued at $1.3 billion. “About 48 percent ($653 million) of our most recent budget was funded from the University’s endowment, and the percentage was 48 percent ($600 million) for fiscal year 2008,” Ms. Cliatt explained.

It is estimated that 47 percent of the 2010 budget will be funded from the endowment.

Approximately 10 percent of the operating budget is funded by gifts, according to Ms. Cliatt.

“Even with a loss of 25 percent rather than 30 percent in the value of the endowment, we will remain above our targeted spending level,” Ms. Cliatt said, adding that “our goal continues to be to meet today’s needs as fully as we can while also preserving the spending power of the endowment for future generations.”

Despite the decline in the endowment due to the current economy, gifts to the University saw their third highest total in the institution’s history, with the Annual Giving campaign raising $44,597,633 in the past fiscal year.

Participants included 57.7 percent of undergraduate alumni, as well as graduate alumni, parents, and friends.

University President Shirley Tilghman said that “these unrestricted funds are critical to upholding Princeton’s commitment to meeting the full financial need of students, preserving our stellar faculty, and sustaining and enriching a wide array of opportunities for learning and discovery.”

The gifts to the Annual Giving campaign are part of the five-year “Aspire: A Plan for Princeton” initiative, which has a goal of raising $1.75 billion by 2012. Currently the campaign has raised $1.028 billion, or 59 percent of its goal.

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