In the spirit of LMU’s mission and transparency, the university offers the following information to correct inaccuracies and misleading conclusions in the anonymous editorial recently published and promoted by The Loyolan.
University Advancement Leadership
- The article’s title promotes a false premise as its basis. University Advancement was led by Mr. Slon from 2004-2018 and by Mr. Baker from 2019-2020. Two changes in a 16-year period do not constitute a revolving door. As is typical in leadership vacancies, interims serve in temporary capacities during position searches. Interim SVP Wade was not removed, she was interim, as her title suggests.
- Mr. Baker’s announcement was not buried deep on a website. His departure was announced publicly to hundreds of community members and colleagues in several letters that were shared in a timely, transparent manner.
- President Snyder has raised more money for LMU than his predecessors in partnership with University Advancement, evidenced by record-setting three- and five-year annual fundraising averages. The editorial omits key performance indicators of fundraising performance:
- From 2011-2015, LMU’s five-year fundraising average was $39.5M/year.
- Under President Snyder, LMU’s five-year fundraising average increased to $45.2M/year.
- From 2015-2017, LMU’s three-year average was $41.6M.
- From 2018-2020, LMU’s three-year average, which includes the current pandemic, was $47.4M.
- LMU’s Day of Giving reached an all-time high, tripling its prior-year record, accounting for a 169% increase in dollars raised and generating $2.36M from more than 4,400 gifts in a single day. Day of Giving allows all LMU donors to support areas within the university about which they are most passionate. Their gifts are not directed to the endowment, as the donors choose which programs to offer their financial support. As anticipated, LMU Loyola Law School contributed greatly to Day of Giving’s success, as it is an integral part of the LMU community and reports to the university president.
Understanding the Endowment
- The endowment’s fair market value does not reflect the university’s fundraising outcomes. Some fundraising outcomes result in endowment increases while others do not. University Advancement’s fundraising efforts provide revenue that directly support academic programs, capital projects, student scholarships, and many other university initiatives and operations, including endowment growth. Also, some monies raised through philanthropy are “planned” gifts, which pay out at later dates, usually upon a donor’s passing. The article incorrectly links fundraising performance and outcomes with the endowment’s fair market value.
- The endowment is controlled by the Board of Trustees, not President Snyder.
- In past town halls, Provost Poon explained that the endowment contains restricted funds, not to be used to compensate for operational shortfalls. The university’s operating budgets, including faculty, staff, and student salaries, are funded by tuition, housing, and LMU’s fees-based revenues.
- It is not plausible to claim that hypothetical endowment returns would have allowed the university to avoid pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs. The contributor does not appear to understand the relationship between the endowment, the university’s budget, and the severity of the revenue losses due to current conditions caused by a global pandemic. The university’s current operating losses are in excess of $30M per semester. After budget reductions and other austerity measures, furloughs were a budget reduction measure of last resort. Provost Poon publicly explained the university’s budget revenues and expenditures in his town hall presentations.
- LMU has not taken on debt to cover operational expenses and President Snyder has not funded “pet projects” using the endowment. LMU issued $90M in green bonds to support new residence halls and capital projects, and to replace aging infrastructure.
- The example of the endowment change from $477.5M to $476.2M (a 0.027% valuation change) is not direct evidence of spending into its principal. There are many reasons for why fair market values increase or decrease, including daily fluctuations in the market.
- LMU recognizes the need to grow the endowment and is working toward that shared goal with its Board of Trustees and community of alumni, friends, and donors. For years, the university has sought to grow its endowment and has prioritized these efforts in its upcoming campaign. To compare LMU alongside institutions with vastly different circumstances and methods is imprecise. To draw conclusions about individual and organizational performance without a more comprehensive evaluation that includes essential facts is misleading and damaging to a community that is committed to overcoming these challenges to the benefit of all.
- The universities cited have adopted similar budget reduction measures due to revenue losses, including furloughs. LMU’s sound financial planning and reserves, along with continuity planning, allowed the university to delay and limit the severity of budget reductions and furloughs. It also allowed the university to maintain healthcare benefits for furloughed employees.
- The comparison of universities is not apples to apples. Endowment sizes are influenced by an institution’s age, donor base, philanthropic priorities, strategic investments, fundraising strategies, and institution size. It appears that a crude comparison of endowment balances is the sole factor in asserting claims about the university’s financial health or fundraising outcomes. A more thoughtful analysis of endowment performance would evaluate annual payouts of comparator endowments, among many other factors.
- The lease term and costs associated with LMU Playa Vista Campus are incorrect. All three of our campuses are closed due to health restrictions, so the characterization of “nearly empty” is unclear since all college campuses in L.A. are closed, by order of the County.