Hellie discusses goals in State of College Address

Helen Lee, Editor-In-Chief

President  Thomas Hellie discussed Linfield’s short and long-term goals for improvement during his Sept. 22 annual “State of the College” address.

Hellie was optimistic about Linfield’s capacity to excel in what he called a “hard time for colleges.”
“The short version of today’s message is that the state of the college is quite sound, and I believe it will continue to be sound,” President Hellie said.

He addressed a wide array of areas in which he saw the need for progress, such as rising tuition, the rollout of the PLACE program, enrollment numbers, educating students on Title IX issues, and fundraising for a renewed focus on the science facilities.

“These aren’t easy times in higher education. We’ve recently seen a host of harshly critical books on the topic of higher education,” Hellie said.

Hellie referenced the search for a new vice president for finance and administration in making his point about Linfield’s standing as a strong contender in the future of higher education.

“In talking to all of the candidates I was pleased to hear that they could see stability and potential at Linfield. College business officers are perhaps by nature a pessimistic group, and among all professionals in higher education, the national association of college and university business officers is the one most worried about the future of higher education,” Hellie said.

Mary Ann Rodriguez was hired last year as the vice president for finance and administration.

One of Hellie’s main points addresses the justification of tuition increases in a climate of economic stress for colleges and universities.

“Over the last 35 years, American middle class family incomes have risen by about 15 percent. Tuitions have risen by about 20 times that amount. We really can’t be surprised that the government and the public were concerned, and we were concerned too,” Hellie said.

He highlights the core mission of Linfield as “personalized on-campus undergraduate education,” and stated that this mission has been subsidized for years by donations from alumni, grants from foundations, financial aid from the government, and profitable programs in the division of continuing education.

“But even so, our tuition has risen significantly. Our core mission is precious to all of us. We are transforming the lives of our traditional 18-22 year-olds, but to maintain that core mission, we must strengthen its financial underpinnings,” Hellie said.

Linfield’s full-time student tuition increase by 3.06 percent for the 2014-2015 school year, which is the smallest dollar increase in the last decade and the lowest percentage increase since 2003.

Overall, Hellie urged the Linfield community to strive toward goals he described as “extremely ambitious.”

Helen Lee can be reached at [email protected].