Georgetown’s endowment has decreased by 11.5 percent this past year, running parallel to a national downward trend, according to the Jan. 24 Chronicle of Higher Education.

A survey of 654 colleges released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers on Jan. 21 stated that the average college endowment dropped by six percent in 2002. This marks the first annual investment decline for college endowments since 1971.

Georgetown’s decrease was significant compared to other top schools. Harvard University, which has the largest endowment of any college, only dropped by 2.7 percent. Fellow Jesuit school Boston College’s endowment dropped only 3.9 percent.

Georgetown’s construction projects are surging forward despite the poor economy and large endowment decrease. “We’re moving forward with completion of the Southwest Quadrangle and hope to being work on the Performing Arts Center as soon city approvals take place,” Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille said.

In response to the financial situation, Georgetown is continuing its fundraising efforts and is working to increase endowments through the Third Century campaign. Its four major fundraising goals are to increase endowment, develop the university’s facilities, increase support for the Annual Fund and provide current-use funds for critical programs.

The Campaign is hoping to raise $1 billion for Georgetown by June 30, 2003. As of Nov. 30, 2002, alumni, parents and friends of Georgetown had contributed $848 million to the campaign.

“Fundraising is challenging considering the nature of the economy post-Sept. 11,” university President John J. DeGoia said (“President DeGioia Satisfied With University’s Direction, Progress,” THE HOYA, Jan. 24, 2003). “Our success indicates the depth of commitment by our alumni.”

“We are optimistic about the support we continue to receive that demonstrates we have a strong future ahead of us,” Bataille said.

Traditionally, richer schools tended to do better than other universities, according to a Jan. 21 Associated Press article. The average school with an endowment of $1 billion or more lost 2.1 percent, while the average school with less than $25 million lost 6.1 percent.

Georgetown’s endowment at the end of the last fiscal year, June 30, 2002, was valued at $625.6 million, according to Bataille. The previous year, however, it was valued at $705.5 million.

Due to the receding economy and changing market conditions, many universities are burdened by a tightened operations budget, a stark contrast to the boom in college endowments from 1992 to 2000. The boom resulted in an unprecedented growth of new buildings across campuses all over the nation, including major construction projects at Georgetown such as the Southwest Quadrangle. The boom also facilitated additional scholarships, increased faculty and research and new programs for many schools, according to the article in the Chronicle.

Most universities maintain that these recent losses are a small price to pay for enormous gains in the past. This claim is buttressed by the fact that endowment increases nationwide were in the double digits each year until last year, according to NACUBO.

Some large universities such as Boston University have been forced to lay off faculty, while other wealthy universities such as Stanford University and Duke University have significantly trimmed their budgets, a Jan. 28 B.C. Heights article reported.

The university predicts, however, that this decrease will not have a big effect on Georgetown’s spending. “We are not currently planning to make any material cuts in our operating budgets or delay any building projects as a result of this drop in value,” Bataille said.

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