Letter to Alumni 2008

Dear W&J Alumni:

You may be reading about colleges that are making the difficult decision to lay off staff and faculty or to institute hiring freezes because of declining endowment or other economic conditions.  Without question, these are turbulent times, but I want to reassure you that Washington & Jefferson College is monitoring the situation closely and is responding in a thoughtful and purposeful manner.

While we are scrutinizing every hire very carefully, we remain committed to maintaining the small (12:1) student:faculty ratio that we currently enjoy.  This means that W&J students will continue to have close relationships with faculty and to be challenged in small, intimate seminars and laboratories.  Our first priority is student success and achievement.

Because of the increased rigidity of the credit markets and growing unemployment, W&J is working to find ways in which we can assist students who may have difficulty obtaining loans.  The federal bailout plan approved by Congress includes several provisions to ensure that student loans remain available and affordable.  We are pleased that it also extends the tuition tax deduction for two years, through 2009.  At W&J, we have also instituted a special Give It Forward Together (GIFT) Fund to provide financial aid for students who face sudden significant changes to their financial situations.

Your gifts over the years have built a college that offers one of the finest liberal arts educations in the country.  Your careers and lives are evidence of the quality of this College.  Everyday you create and sustain our excellent reputation.  I want you to know that we are stewarding your assets well and that the College remains strong.

We are pleased to report that to date, applications to W&J are running ahead of last year's numbers (about 7000 applications for 400 spots in the freshman class for Fall 2008), and the academic profile of applicants continues to rise.  Furthermore, thanks to the support of generous alumni, we have 80% of the cost of our new Science Center in hand in cash.  So, our vital capital projects are proceeding.

Although it is natural to be anxious when the economy is as volatile as it is now, this is also the time to hold steady to our basic values, to clarify what we consider essential.  For W&J, this means that we must:

  1.     Sustain the high quality of the W&J education,
  2.     Ensure student achievement and success,
  3.     Balance our commitments to present quality with saving for future growth, and
  4.     Keep the college community (faculty, staff, students, and alumni) strong and mutually supportive.

It is times like these when I am especially glad to be at a small college, a place where individuals know how to work together when times get tough.  I know that we can count on you, as alumni, to continue to support this college.  My husband and I will double our gift to W&J this year because, while wealth may wane, education stays with us forever.  No one can take it away-it shapes our souls.  We are all making adjustments, but alumni participation in the W&J Fund and other campaigns remains crucial.  We count on you to help us keep W&J strong.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call or email me.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tori Haring-Smith
President