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Brown: More Students, Fewer Staff
We’ve commented before that the College has acquired a doleful reputation for financial mismanagement. At a conference for academic Chief Investment Officers held at Cambridge Associates in June 2009, a speaker referred to Dartmouth as “the poster child for over-spending.” Our endowment growth has gone from best to worst in the Ivies over the past two decades; and our debt level is ballooning. Let’s circle back and examine today how the College’s finances could be better managed by comparing #15 Brown University’s finances with our own (we rank #11 in U.S. News). The results aren’t pretty.
Brown has about 46% more undergrads than Dartmouth, and it has 36% more students:
As one would expect, it has more faculty members than the College; however in absolute terms it has almost 10% fewer non-faculty employees:
[The above are 2011 figures. as of the end of 2012, Dartmouth had added 153 staffers to reach a total of 3,328 non-faculty employees; Brown grew its non-faculty headcount to 3,227 — 101 fewer people than at Dartmouth.]
Providence, a city of 1,630,956 in the overall metropolitan area, has a higher cost of living than Hanover (11,260 people), and Rhode Island levies a flat 7% income tax and a 7% state sales tax. Despite having more students, and being in a higher cost environment, Brown’s total annual expenses are 10% lower than Dartmouth’s — a difference in 2011 of $75.8 million:
The difference is only partially due to sponsored research. Dartmouth’s grant-sponsored research budget is only 6.7% higher than the Brown’s ($11.3 million):
Brown shares some of the results of its good management with its students. Last year, tuition, room and board, and fees for Brown students were 5% lower than at Dartmouth. Brown’s cost puts it in the middle of the Ivies; Dartmouth is the second-most costly school after Columbia:
Brown has a smaller endowment than Dartmouth’s, but despite Brown’s larger student enrollment, it draws less from its endowment than Dartmouth (a difference of $73.1 million last year), and also less as a percentage of its endowment. As a result, Brown’s endowment has been growing over twice as fast as Dartmouth’s in this century. At the current pace, Brown’s endowment will be larger than ours by about 2025:
Between 1990-2000 Brown had the fifth-ranked endowment in the Ivies in terms of growth; between 2000-2011, it was the sixth-ranked school. Dartmouth had the fastest growing endowment in the Ivies between 1990-2000, and the slowest growing one between 2000-2011.
One area of weakness for Brown: it has tried to play catch-up by borrowing money almost to the extent that Dartmouth has. For every dollar of endowment, Brown now has 30 cents debt; Dartmouth has 33 cents. Dartmouth has the second worst record in the Ivy League in this area; Brown is the third worst.
Total salaries and wages at Brown are virtually the same as at Dartmouth, even though Brown has more high-salary faculty members. However the cost of benefits at Brown is $42.6 million lower than at Dartmouth. Some cuts have been made in Hanover over the past year, but these changes barely brush the surface of the problem:
Beyond benefits, wages at Brown for line workers — despite Providence’s urban cost structure — are significantly below those for the staff in Hanover. Both Brown and Dartmouth have workers in the SEIU union; Brown’s baseline workers are paid almost 20% less than Dartmouth’s workers, and Dartmouth’s workers’ wages rise more quickly (after nine months on the job; at Brown base wages only go up after two years):
The above numbers lead inexorably to the conclusion that if Phil Hanlon could cut the College’s cost structure to a level resembling Brown’s (and please note that I have not said that Brown is well managed; I expect that it is just less badly managed than Dartmouth), resources would be freed up to greatly improve the quality of a Dartmouth education. We have too many people on the payroll, we pay them too much, and their benefits are too high.
Addendum: Forgive me the use of a recycled post, but given the recent release of the College’s non-faculty employment numbers, and the jump in tuition, room and board, and fees to over $60k, Brown’s the relative success in controlling costs seems important.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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