After three years of budget deficits, the Yale Divinity School is out of the red and back in the black.
From 2011 to 2013, Yale Divinity School spent approximately $2.2 million of reserves to cover its deficits, Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling said. During these years of deficit, Yale Divinity School reduced some of its non-faculty positions — including adjunct and visiting professorships — left several faculty positions temporarily unfilled and stopped increasing financial aid, he said. Sterling said the high endowment performance of the University, in addition to these cost cuts, has helped the school eliminate its budget deficit.
With the budget stabilized, Yale Divinity School was able to remove the cap on financial aid but is still focusing on expanding opportunities for tuition relief. Ideally, Sterling said, Yale Divinity School aims to be tuition-free for all students who need it by 2020, which would require raising about $40 million.
“The single biggest concern is student financial aid, so we’re working very hard to try to expand what we can offer,” Sterling said.
Senior Director of Development Jim Hackney said all of the money from the Yale Divinity School annual fund — the primary fundraising account — and other donations is put towards financial aid.
Yale Divinity School is looking to become more aggressive and creative in its fundraising efforts looking forward, Hackney added.
“We know now that this is a good time for us to be very active in fundraising,” he said. “We really try to be very transparent with all of our donors and our alumni [so they can] know what an investment will mean toward future leadership.”
James Jenkins DIV ’15 said the Divinity School is very accommodating to the many students who need aid.
“I think 90 percent of the students receive significant financial aid, and I think the Divinity School is doing a lot to raise money and support for financial aid,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins added that despite the deficit, he did not see a big difference in his aid package from year to year.
Yale Divinity School Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Hopie Randall could not be reached for comment.
Sterling said the Divinity School faculty, together with the advisory council and alumni, is planning on creating a 10-year plan for financial strategy that will be ready by the end of the academic year. The plan is still in the drafting stage, but will include methods to realize the school’s goals for ongoing increase in the financial aid budget.
Students interviewed said there are also other areas which Yale Divinity School should invest in, starting this year.
Donna Desilus DIV ’15 said now that the Divinity School has a balanced budget, she hopes the administration will hire more faculty members to refill the positions that were not replaced during the cuts.
But Yale Divinity School professor Harold Attridge said despite reductions in non-faculty positions, the deficit did not cause any profound changes to the way Yale Divinity School functions.
Lecia Allman DIV ’16 said this year Yale Divinity School has been able to bring in more guest lecturers than they could when there was a deficit. Many of these guest lecturers, she said, come from a variety of intellectual and ethnic backgrounds, which makes students feel that Yale Divinity School recognizes and appreciates diversity.
Yale Divinity School tuition for the 2014-’15 school year is $25,490.