Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Virginia Gregg was in attendance at the Faculty Senate meeting last Wednesday to present an update of the financial status of Rensselaer.
“The biggest financial challenge for us is managing this legacy defined pension plan,” said Gregg. The plan has since been closed to new members, but the Institute is still liable for current members. Prior to the pension payments, Rensselaer is in a “slightly positive” position for 2016, but is “slightly negative” after the pension.
Gregg continued, “It’s always been a bit unusual that Rensselaer had a defined pension plan for everybody.” She said that the Institute plans to put $100 million into the plan over the next eight to 10 years. “The board, the president, and I have plans for how we are going to manage this.”
Gregg outlined the Institute’s $742 million in long term debt: $134 million is towards the pension plan liability, $328 million is from new facilities, including the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the East Campus Athletics Village. Additionally, $280 million is for deferred maintenance.
“We actually are compliant with the Department of Education financial responsibility requirements,” stated Gregg, regarding the DoE’s requirement that Rensselaer post a letter of credit. The DoE considers the pension liability one which would need to be paid in full, which is not the case. However, “we want zero chance that our programs could be exposed.” (Editor’s note: see https://poly.rpi.edu/s/fhua3 for more details regarding the letter of credit.)
Gregg encouraged the faculty to participate in academic performance planning, participate in Summer Arch and growing research, and “talk up” the school as ways to increase revenue. The Institute estimates that Summer Arch will bring in an additional $15 million.
The Faculty Senate also heard a presentation from Folsom Library Director Andrew White. White recently joined the Rensselaer community and was presenting on his goals for library improvement. He expressed interest in improving the library’s website and how it is used. He also spoke about the protecting the items in the library’s archives, as its current space on the third floor is not climate controlled and close to water mains.
The Faculty Senate concluded with some committee updates before adjourning.