I am not expert but will give by two cents to your answers:Humdinger wrote: ↑Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:01 amChiRedbirdfan wrote: ↑Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:28 am
I am a very factual oriented so letting you know that before I ask you this question about your post..so what is the basis for saying that ISU “seems to be in good financial position”? If one looks at ISU’s debt rating (dropping over the last 5 years, one level above junk and also 5 levels below Indy state or Uni for comparison based upon Moody’s), shrinking endowment, lack of enrollment growth, and falling academic rankings then one should be deeply concerned. If you want to compare ISU to WIU, SIU, NIU OR Chciago State (whom all are failing in many ways) then yes we are better. I am not hammering ISU but believe all those that love and support ISU need to understand the reality of ISU’s finances if they want to make informed decisions on how to help and support ISU. I AM JUST SAYING.
Chi, not being a smarty pants here but I'm sincerely asking.
*Is the basis for ISU's debt rating because of the school's financial irresponsibility or because of our association in general with the state of IL? (broad question I realize) I realize many factors go into the rating (hmmm or do they?) but why has our debt rating dropped?
*Endowment. How much has it shrunk? From when to when? What's a healthy number for endowment?
*Enrollment growth. While we may not be growing, haven't we stayed consistent, generally, over the last 30 yrs? How much should we be growing? Does the University even want to grow? Is it in our best interests to grow enrollment? Interesting question- how much room do we have to grow?
*Falling academic rankings. According to who? What are those stats?
*In your view, from your informed basis, how do we best help and support ISU? Absolute sincere question. This is a good convo for all of us to have.
1. State of Illinois and their problems are certainly a part of ISU's falling debt rating. However the University of Illinois system's debt is rated 5 or 6 places higher by Moody's so some of it is ISU specific too. I believe some of ISU's challenges include its overall positioning...ie lack of some substantive degrees such as not having an engineering..etc. We can come up with likely a long list of excuses why the debt is rated near junk status but regardless of reason the reality is that ISU's debt rating is low and it will be harder/more expensive for ISU to borrow money.
2. The endowment seems to be hovering around $100,000,000 to $110,000,000 million but it looks like ISU was drawing down on some of it in recent years to help get through the financial crisis. That is understandable but that is not ideal and ISU really needs to grow their endowment as it is small for a university of its size and reputation when compared to other state universities. I do not know what size it should be but certainly it needs to grow. U of I system endowment is $3.4 Billion. That is not a fair comparison but it does give a perspective about the significant differences in endowment size.
3. I strongly believe meaningful and planned growth is needed over time. Many national state universities have increased enrollment significantly over the past 30 years....ie Iowa State, UIC, Michigan State...etc. This allows the universities to spread overhead costs amongst a lot of students vs a smaller set. For ISU it would also be a huge boost to the athletics since the students are the ones the are funding 80% of the athletics cost. Certainly stable enrollment is not a bad thing but gradual planned growth would be a very good. You mentioned that ISU enrollment has been stable for 30 years well the US population was 240,000,000 30 years ago and now it is 320,000,000. The state of Illinois population was 11.3 million 30 years ago and now it is near 13mm.
4. The academic rankings I am referring to are from US News and World report which i believe is likely the most recognized and utilized university ranking. ISU fell from 159 to 171 on the national university rankings during the past year. Usually movements of a few spots is noteworthy but increasing or decreasing 10 or so places is a big move. I am not sure what happened that drove ISU to fall 12 places in one year.
Yes ISU has faired much better recently than NIU, SIU, EIU and WIU and should be credited for outdoing those universities but to say and believe ISU is doing great/good is a stretch and not based on the facts/data, IMO.