Administrators and fundraisers line the College's pockets

by Alison Schmauch | 10/31/01 6:00am

Endowment and investments, tuition and alumni gifts remain Dartmouth's three most important sources of revenue, despite a declining economy that may impact the growth of endowment funds, according to Win Johnson, vice president and treasurer of the College.

Student tuition and fees are Dartmouth's most important sources of revenue, supplying just below 50 percent of the undergraduate school's funds, Johnson said.

Dartmouth's percentage of revenue from tuition is typical for a private four-year college, as the average percentage of revenue from tuition for such colleges was 45.4 percent in 1996, according to the National Center for Education Statistics' website.

Johnson noted the importance of drawing a distinction between the budget of Dartmouth's undergraduate college and the budget of the institution overall. He explained that the budgets for the professional schools and Dartmouth's undergraduate school look fairly different and should be broken down separately.

Funding for sponsored research is an important source of revenue for Dartmouth Medical School and the Thayer School of Engineering, Johnson said.

Both Thayer and DMS receive about 20 percent of their funding from grants for research, whereas the undergraduate college only receives about 9 percent of its revenue from such grants each year.

Johnson was unsure of exactly what percentage of the Tuck School's revenue comes from grants for research, but he said that the figure would be lower than the corresponding number from Thayer and DMS, since Tuck's faculty members tend to focus more on projects like developing leadership training programs than on pure research.

Endowment and investments are Dartmouth's second most important source of revenue, supplying about 25 percent of the undergraduate college's overall budget, Johnson said.

While the College's endowment has increased rapidly over the past several years due to the strength of the stock market, Johnson doubts that it will continue to grow at so quick a rate, and College President James Wright acknowledged earlier this week that the College's investments were in fact hit by the downturning market.

"This year, Dartmouth will almost certainly see a loss of investment growth, although we are staying optimistic. Most schools are also seeing shrinking endowments," he said.

Johnson said that Dartmouth tends to spend more of its endowment than do peer institutions.

The average four-year private college receives only 8.7 percent of its revenue from endowments, according to the NCES web site.

However, as Dartmouth is significantly better endowed than most of the schools surveyed by NCES, Johnson indicated that its high percentage of revenue from endowment is less uncommon among especially highly endowed private schools.

"Schools have different philosophies about spending their endowments," he said. "Some schools are very conservative about spending their endowments, some not."

In his address before the faculty on Monday, President of the College James Wright also stressed the importance of finding "imaginative" ways to meet Dartmouth's financial goals as the economy turns sour.

Wright mentioned that an upcoming capital campaign might help to replace some of the money lost from the endowment over the past year with funds from alumni donations, which typically constitute Dartmouth's third most important source of revenue.

According to Johnson, alumni gifts make up another 11 to 12 percent of the budget.

Alumni gifts make up about 11 to 12 percent of both the undergraduate college's and the overall institutions budget, according to Johnson. Such donations are the College's third-largest source of revenue.

The remainder of Dartmouth's revenue comes from miscellaneous sources like ticket proceeds from athletic or artistic events, Johnson said.

Johnson joked that while Dartmouth's major sources of revenue are unlikely to change in the near future, "the College is always looking for new ones."

"If anyone finds any oil buried underneath the Green, let me know," he said.