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By HPU President Geoffrey Bannister. August 20, 2014 - 3:49 am
A recent article on the financial picture at Hawai‘i Pacific University painted a rather grimmer picture than I believe the reality calls for. We believe the article erred in equating the university’s budget balancing with its efforts to ensure the continued long-term financial sustainability of HPU.
It is true that HPU’s part-time enrollments have decreased after the 2008-09 financial crisis and subsequent military sequestrations, as enrollments did across many universities in the nation, including in Hawai‘i. It is true we have been steadily adjusting our operational budgets to fit that new reality. However, those challenges were not something new or sudden. Rather, they were something that we addressed earlier this summer and were well-documented to the media. It is part of the practical reality that a private, non-profit university, while not a business, must operate like one.
All told, while we faced certain challenges in balancing our operating budget for last year and this one, our financial health is favorable and our full-time undergraduate and graduate enrollments have been steady over the last three years. Our provisional financial results for FY 2014 (which ended June 30, 2014) show we are less than two-tenths of one percent away from a balanced budget. We are also grateful to our far-sighted Board of Trustees that allowed us to make modest use of resources to aid the operational budget transition and to pave the way for new investments in the future.
Our current reserves continue to exceed $65 million in addition to our physical plant assets, which provides stability for a mid-sized private university in this era and is a strong tribute to the financial acumen and management skills of my predecessors. We still have many needs and greater ambitions that will require additional resources, mainly from private gifts and grants from community members who also believe in our vision and see how becoming among the top 10 U.S. western regional private universities will benefit the state.
By September of 2015, when HPU is celebrating its 50th anniversary, we expect to have the Aloha Tower Marketplace open for students, families and community, to have added a research feed mill on the Big Island, and to be celebrating 50 years of accomplishments together with our 17,000 alumni who live in Hawai?i. We look forward to welcoming our new class of students in the coming weeks. They are joining the university during a transformational time and will be among the first group of students that will realize the benefits of our recent investments in the university’s future.
This letter was originally posted on President Bannister’s Blog
Photo by Joana Gonzalez.