The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

DOE ratio explained
The Department of Education seal. Source:

College’s fiscal status outlined in town hall meeting

James McClendon, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Utica College faculty and staff gathered in the Strebel Auditorium for a town hall about the current budget situation. President Laura Casamento hosted the meeting.

One of Casamento’s primary objectives was to explain what the Department of Education Ratio (DOE) is and where UC falls on this scale. The range of possible scores falls between (-1) and 3 and one of the determinants of this number comes from comparing expenses against revenue.

Another factor that goes into determining the DOE ratio is the inclusion of non-operating expenses, such as stock market fluctuations that could negatively affect the endowment.

“We need to do a better job prioritizing,” Casemento said.

In 2016, UC’s DOE stood at 1.577 and according to Casamento current projections would see this number drop to 1.47 for the 2017 fiscal year. However, Casamento has set a goal to increase the DOE ratio to 1.7 by 2017. She has tasked a Budget Oversight Committee, composed of administrators, faculty and staff, to make recommendations on which parts of the budget need to be adjusted to reach this goal.

Casamento also talked about new DOE regulations that would come into effect if that number were to drop below 1.5.

According to new Department of Education regulations, a school that is considered financially risky is required to make current and prospective students aware, in plain language, of its financial predicaments.

Another possible outcome of falling below 1.5 would be certain financial institutions may not feel comfortable getting into the private loan market with students from a school in that position.

“We heard about that in the past in the past,” Casamento said. “Luckily, we have never been under 1.5, so our students have never experienced that. It is really important that we do the good work we need to do in order to make sure that we create a cushion.”

Casamento wanted to assure students that from that perspective they would not be harmed in any way.


Budget Cuts

As big decisions on the budget are made in the next few weeks, Casamento wanted to make sure that nothing will negatively affect the quality of education or campus life that has made UC such a vibrant campus.

“Even when we look at it from an operating budget perspective, we are looking at it with students in mind,” Casamento said. “At this point I think it would be highly unlikely for us to stop any student related clubs or athletics.”

While it is important to look at how budget cuts will affect the future, it is also vital to take a look at what caused the problem in the first place.


Revenue should be greater than expense

During the town hall meeting, Casamento displayed a line graph that compared revenue to expenses since 2012. For 2016, the blue revenue line was below the red expense line. Casamento said that they should be the other way around.

The two major contributors to the rise in expenses are salaries and operating expenses. However, another aspect that Casamento talked about were the recent additions to the campus, such as the Todd Hutton Dome and the Welcome Center.

One huge operating expense that is essential to the success of many students has been the shuttle service that gets students to and from the Clark City Center downtown and the Ramada Inn, where some students are currently being housed.

“Part of it was making investments on things that students wanted to have,” Casamento said. “Things we thought would contribute to a better quality of life.”


Housing effects

                  Student housing has been a major concern for UC over the past few years. Students have not only had to share small dorm rooms but some have been forced to live completely off campus in a nearby hotel.

The decision of whether to build a new dormitory is one that must be weighed by Casamento and the Budget Oversight Committee.

Casamento said that there are a few options on what path best suits the needs of the UC campus, but that something definitely needs to be done. She said adding a new dormitory will have a positive effect on the budget.

“If we are able to do something on campus, that’s revenue that is coming to us,” Casamento said. “Residence halls are very good investments because they pay for themselves when they are full.”

That is the issue that troubles Casamento. She wants to make sure that the demand is there before the school commits to the project.

“I just want us to take a step back and say is the demand going to be there long term,” Casamento said. “That is a decision we don’t want to rush into. We want to take some time and analyze the numbers.”




Final message

                  Casamento believes that UC is heading in the right direction. She said, even though people were not perfectly comfortable with the topic of the town hall meeting, she hopes that they came away with an understanding of where UC stands and what needs to be done.

“All I am asking this campus to do is to pull back and take a look at things,” Casamento said. “Let’s be prudent about how we spend. Let’s create a cushion so that we are in compliance with all covenants and the DOE ratio. Let’s get through this year and then just go.”

In a memo from the president sent to faculty and staff, Casamento laid out the timeline of events that were scheduled to take place.

On Nov. 18, Casamento was scheduled to present budget recommendations from herself and the Budget Oversight Committee, to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. She will then share the final decisions with faculty and staff.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Tangerine Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *