This weekend, the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, met to discuss the University’s finances, which are slowly climbing out of a three-year deficit.
Foremost on the group’s agenda was the discussion of the new capital construction projects that will become possible as the endowment continues to recover, and the future fundraising efforts that will support this growth, University President Richard Levin said Sunday evening. The Corporation also discussed the University’s debt standing — Yale’s finances will soon be stable enough to support the assumption of new debt for the first time since the endowment fell in 2008, which will enable the University to fund new construction in the coming years.
“We’re not quite at the point where we can take on additional debt,” Levin said. “But the situation looks substantially brighter than it did a year ago.”
In addition to reviewing Yale’s debt standing, the Finance Committee — one of many sub-groups on the Corporation devoted to a specific area of the University — examined the preliminary budget estimates for the coming fiscal year. It found that the University’s budget should be balanced for the first time since the financial crash.
At the top of the University’s construction queue are the projects administrators placed on hold when the recession began: the new residential colleges and the new Yale Biology Building on Science Hill, Levin said. Over the weekend, members of the Corporation’s Building and Grounds Committee reviewed School of Architecture Dean Robert A. M. Stern’s ARC ’65 plans for the new colleges and voted to proceed to the next phase, in which Stern’s team will prepare the drawings for construction.
“We reached the end of the design development phase of planning,” Levin said. “The plans look absolutely fabulous.”
The Corporation’s decision will allow the colleges to open in 2015 at the earliest, Levin said, but he added that this timeline depends on the status of fundraising and the endowment in the coming years.
Because administrators anticipate that potential donors will be more interested in giving to the new colleges than in giving to the Yale Biology Building, Levin said that the University is more likely to finance the construction on Science Hill by assuming debt.
During a meeting of the Development and Alumni Affairs Committee, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach gave a presentation on planning for fundraising following the June 30 ending of Yale Tomorrow, the University’s five-year comprehensive fundraising campaign, Levin said. He added that administrators will continue to discuss future donation priorities, which include both the new colleges and the biology center, over the summer and into the fall.
The Corporation will next meet during Commencement in May.