After a year of working under pandemic conditions, William & Mary entered FY22 with renewed focus on our strategic direction and continued commitment to navigating periods of uncertainty and change. We saw substantial year-to-year growth in our operating revenue as we returned to more normal operations and continued to see planned growth in our undergraduate student body and many of our graduate programs. Funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia remained strong and private support kept W&M in the top spot for alumni giving among all public universities in the U.S.
At $540.8 million, operating revenues for the university and its affiliated foundations increased by $56 million — or 11.6% — over the prior year as the campus returned cautiously to full classrooms and dorms, more performances and sporting events, and social gatherings when public health conditions would allow. Although the dollar increase in revenues was driven largely by students through tuition, fees, room and board, the largest percentage increase was in private gifts and contributions, which grew by 15% over the prior year.
FY22 expenditures totaled $498.9 million — an increase of $37.6 million or 8.2%. The increase reflected a rebound over the prior year as we resumed more normal activity, although the university continued to spend judiciously as we faced new variants of the COVID-19 virus and cases continued to ebb and flow both on campus and across the country. National and global unrest and economic uncertainty pushed financial markets down, leaving the market value of W&M’s total endowment at more than $1.3 billion — a slight increase from the prior year.
On campus, we saw continued work on our facilities and physical infrastructure as Fine & Performing Arts, Phases I and II, began to take shape, the new Sadler West Addition emerged, and we dedicated Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved. With private support, the memorial was dedicated last May and has already become an important part of the fabric of campus. Similarly, the Sadler West Addition was dedicated in fall 2022 and has clearly shifted the social center of campus. We have seen similar transformations on the VIMS campus with the dedication of the Acuff Center for Aquaculture early in the year.
We are continuing work on other transformational projects. After initial design delays and more recent supply chain disruptions, we expect the Fine & Performing Arts Complex to open in mid-2023. Once completed, the Commonwealth of Virginia will have provided over $130 million in state general fund support for that impressive state-of-the-art facility. On the VIMS campuses, planning and construction continued on a new research facility to replace Chesapeake Bay Hall, the Eastern Shore Laboratory Complex and a new modern oyster hatchery.
As President Rowe has noted, the foundation of Vision 2026 sets the expectation that the university will create a financial model that ensures an exceptional William & Mary experience. With that as our mantra, we focused many of our efforts in FY22 on continuing to improve the university’s financial position, thinking long-term about the management of our endowment, and identifying needed investments that will be crucial for maintaining William & Mary’s competitive position. Coming out of pandemic, William & Mary has emerged financially strong and has begun to think strategically about our needs over the next decade, particularly with respect to renovation of our existing facilities, sustainability and information technology.
Other long-range planning has been evident over the last year. For example, the Board of Visitors took action to move the management of the university’s endowment to the 1693 Partners Fund effective July 1, 2022. With that move, all of the university’s major endowments — including those held by the William & Mary Foundation, the Business School Foundation, the Law School Foundation and the Board of Visitors — are now invested and managed together.
In another major move, this past year, the Board of Visitors unanimously approved a 10-year comprehensive master facilities plan for student housing and dining that will provide the next generation of students with modern facilities that integrate living and learning in new and exciting ways. Although it will take time to bring those plans to fruition, we expect to have shovels in the ground by this time next year. Finally, this summer, S&P Global Ratings reaffirmed William & Mary’s “AA” rating with a stable outlook despite the headwinds facing higher education nationally.
Although there are many reasons to be optimistic about the university’s financial future, we recognize that challenges remain. It is no coincidence that the strategic plan focuses on where the university needs to be by 2026. Nationally, we know that there will be a demographic shift in college enrollments in the coming years as the number of graduating high school students drops. We also know that the public trust in higher education has eroded, making it more important than ever that we are able to demonstrate the value of a William & Mary degree and the return on investment.
Private support remains essential to our ability to create a margin of excellence that differentiates William & Mary from our peers. We see clear evidence of this as we begin work on the new W&M Athletics Complex, which includes the revitalization of Kaplan Arena and establishment of a new Sports Performance Center.
With the groundbreaking at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, we will also begin to see the importance of private dollars in renovating that space and creating an expanded presence with the construction of The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts. We continue to fundraise for these projects and rely on the support of donors to ensure completion of both projects. We also continue to raise money for operations in the All In campaign for W&M Athletics as we aim to raise a total of $55 million by December 2023.
Less visible is the impact of private donations that provide access to students who would not otherwise be able to afford a William & Mary education or that encourage the best and brightest to select this university over others also trying to attract them. Also less visible is the private support that accelerates the advancement of new knowledge in key areas of research, allows faculty members to bring new learning to students in the classroom or lab, or unrestricted gifts that provide the president with the ability to invest in those areas most essential to meeting our strategic goals. Those dollars continue to directly shape the direction of the university and will be an increasingly important part of ensuring our students have an exceptional William & Mary experience.
Amy Sebring M.P.P. ’95
Chief Operating Officer