NEW ORLEANS (September, 14,2023)– Dillard University President Dr. Rochelle Ford held a student forum Wednesday, Aug 30 to gather feedback about what could be done for the university’s betterment.
One of the main topics was the school’s budget. Though specific numbers could not be provided, Dr. Ford gave students an understanding of where the university is in terms of the budget and how it was set this year.
Dr. Ford also mentioned that the previous administration and Board of Trustees approved a budget to accommodate Dillard’s large number of freshmen and returning students,but that budget couldn’t be met. This is due to the university not having enough returning students.
It also costs more to bring in new students, which sets the university behind. “We had to do some things differently in order to close that gap,” stated Dr.Ford. So, changes were made to make money for the campus.
Dillard’s finances have excelled through fundraising. Dillard was able to host more events during the summer, which brought more revenue to the university. Events like STEM summer camps and conferences brought in additional funds to the university.
When forming this year’s budget, Dr. Ford took a different approach by doing a zero based budgeting method. Regarding the method she said,“Pretend like you have no money, tell me how much money you need to do the work of your unit.” Using the information gathered from each department, she created a presentation to the board, which was adopted, and then worked to implement it by the start of the budget year on Sept 1.
One objective Dr. Ford had was to grow the university with stable enrollment. According to Dr.Ford, enrollment increased in the fall and spring of 2022, which is better compared to previous years. The hope is that every year more students will choose to stay, boosting the graduation rate, which is another objective that Dr.Ford has to better the university.
Dr. Ford also explained the budget breakdown during her forum. She discussed what students pay out of pocket, which is $10 million out of pocket,which is 19% of the $56 million budget. Endowments are 5%, federal aid and grants are 27 percent.
Dr. Ford also wants to take care of the staff as well as the students. She realized that there were faculty members that were making less than $15 an hour and has implemented a plan to eradicate the issue.
Other topics Ford touched on included her main goal was for the campus. She wants to create a healthier, safer, and more innovative community while also creating a living, learning, and servicing community on Dillard’s campus. She wants to do this through strategic planning over the next three years.