Hanlon: Dartmouth Will Weather Pandemic’s Financial Challenges

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In an email, the president discussed the effect of the COVID-19 on Dartmouth’s finances.

Aerial view of campus in fall
(Photo by Robert Gill) 

There are immediate and long-term consequences for Dartmouth’s finances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it’s necessitated in the institution’s operations, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 told faculty, students, and staff in an email today.

Revenue is down, the need for financial aid will increase, and the market is down, therefore investments are down, President Hanlon wrote. Still, he predicted that Dartmouth would weather the challenges caused by the pandemic, “and do so in ways that preserve the excellence of our teaching and research and the core commitments we have made to our community.

”We will continue to meet the full demonstrated need of our undergraduate students. Tenure and promotion procedures will continue, as will the other ways that we recognize the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students. And we will maintain the familiar rhythms of the academic year, as just yesterday we offered admission to the Class of ’24, a stellar group of applicants,“ he wrote.

Hanlon said the consequences of the economic downturn will be felt in many ways and he called on the Dartmouth community to take care of one another. ”We must all look out for the most vulnerable among us.“

Hanlon’s observations on COVID-19’s impact include:

  • Demand for financial aid is anticipated to increase significantly over the next few months.
  • Declines in key revenue streams are expected, including more than $15 million in lost undergraduate room and board revenue for spring term, as classes are being taught remotely.
  • Philanthropy will be affected, especially the annual fund, as alumni face financial challenges.
  • The endowment, while well-positioned, is not immune to financial markets which are down 25%. In a market downturn of this magnitude, Dartmouth’s endowment is impact, as are the endowments of Dartmouth’s peers.

”Fortunately, we have taken steps to prepare for an economic downturn. Our liquidity is strong, we have built up reserve funds to cushion the immediate impacts of a recession, and we have introduced greater rigor and discipline in our budgeting practices,“ he wrote. Preparing Dartmouth for the next recession has been a key goal of Hanlon’s in the seven years since he became president.

Hanlon said Provost Joe Helble, Executive Vice President Rick Mills, and Chief Financial Officer Mike Wagner will communicate in the coming days about some of the steps Dartmouth will take to meet its immediate financial challenges.

And the president praised the Dartmouth community for its resilience and determination. ”These are difficult, uncertain times. But we are a strong community and I am confident that we will succeed as long as we work together to face the challenges ahead with wisdom and resolve.“

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic, including visit the COVID-19 website.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at susan.j.boutwell@dartmouth.edu.

Susan J. Boutwell