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July15, 2009

Vol. 109, No. 16

Making ends meet

While reading President Tilghman’s column (President’s Page, June 10) regarding “The New Normal” and noting our need to overspend our endowment in the “short term” and identify $88 million of cost savings to make ends meet, I couldn’t help but think about how useful the $80 million we spent on Robertson lawsuit legal fees ($40 million of University funds used to pay the Robertsons’ fees, plus $40 million for the University’s fees and expenses) could have been this year! Several of the cost-saving ideas that President Tilghman mentions (i.e., eliminating the staff picnic and free printing, circulating faculty minutes electronically) are absolutely ridiculous in their insignificance. The University needs to focus on the big numbers to solve this problem.

It is also a bit ironic that alumni are being asked to step up their contributions to cover an operating shortfall that could have been funded with the capital used to settle a lawsuit with family members of one of the University’s most generous alumni.

Further, President Tilghman seems to contradict herself in describing how “prudent in our spending policies” the University has been in recent years, while describing the massive expansion in spending that has taken place on her watch. The enlargement of the student body and expansion of the campus are huge, permanent additions to our cost structure (as justified by our endowment at the time), while endowment values, as anyone at Princo can tell you, will never rise in a straight line over an extended period of time.

I, for one, love the University and will continue to support it as I have every year since graduation, based on my hope and expectation that we have learned a difficult lesson about the importance of budgetary restraint.

Robert W. Koehn ’94
Winter Park, Fla.

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