Feeling the financial squeeze

Albion's "belt-tightening" has included cuts to the Institutional Advancement office.
Albion's "belt-tightening" has included cuts to the Institutional Advancement office.

Restructuring in the institutional advancement office marked the first of a series of changes to be made to divisions throughout the college over the current semester which are the result of an ongoing evaluation process that began last semester.



According to Joshua Merchant, vice-president of institutional advancement, three people lost their jobs as a result of the restructuring process which affected two divisions within Institutional Advancement:  the former alumni and parent relations office, which is now the office of annual giving and alumni engagement, as well the development department.

“(The senior officers of the college) have spent the past four or five months trying to model the economy, trying to model what affect it has on Albion College,” said Donna Randall, president of Albion College. “We’ll be looking at what’s core to our mission and try to protect that, and look for areas that we can be much more efficient in (so that) we can provide the same level of service to the students.”

According to Randall, the motivation for the changes is primarily financial.

“What we have decided to do is belt-tightening,” Randall said. “We’re looking across campus in all divisions to cut expenses and grow revenue. Mr. Merchant was the first one to say, ‘I’m ready to do that.’”


Merchant said that new alumni activities will focus on activities that target specific alumni groups such as young alumni and women. He believes that the new activities will draw in alumni, who will in turn donate more money to the school.


“By being more strategic, we blended annual engagement with annual giving, so that way our alumni engagement activities translate to annual giving programs,” Merchant said. “The development side, we restructured to be much more aggressive with fundraising activities.”


The process of restructuring within Institutional Advancement began last fall when internal assessments were conducted to see what cost-cutting measures were necessary, according to Merchant.


“We worked in terms of teams and many discussions on the floor,” Merchant said. “It was through a series of processes that were inclusive of not only the staff, but (also) the president and the board of trustees. We (then) hired an outside consultant, which reaffirmed my decisions.”


Merchant said that not only will the restructuring within Institutional Advancement cut costs, but it will also allow for a more effective outreach strategy to alumni who donate needed funds.


“We’re going to be developing regional alumni chapters (in) Grand Rapids, Detroit and Chicago. It’s also going to be alumni-volunteer driven. We are trying to be fiscally responsible but lean, so we’re going to rely on volunteers.”


According to Randall, the final series of changes has yet to be finalized, and every division across the campus will be evaluated as an area that can potentially be modified or cut back – including the administrators’ salaries.


“We went (ahead) and moved first (Institutional Advancement),” Randall said. “Everything else is on the table. We’ll do as a college everything it takes to help Albion stay strong.”

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