Kooistra’s Corner: Looking back in thanks and forward with hope

Posted on July 1, 2015

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When I arrived at Erskine last August, the 2014-15 fiscal year was just a few weeks old. To say we started the year together with difficult challenges is certainly an understatement.

Erskine was faced with making significant financial course corrections. Ensuring our continued accreditation and clearing the way for long-term financial stability required swift action and difficult decisions.

Yet, as Sandi and I began our journey as members the Erskine family, we were warmly welcomed and quickly came to understand why so many are so passionate about Erskine, its heritage, and its mission.

As the challenging year continued, we celebrated Erskine’s resilience and God’s gracious provision for 175 years. Together we faced our challenges, asking for wisdom and acting in faith. We walked through controversy together and learned from one another because of it.

By God’s grace, the news as we close one fiscal year and start another is promising and hopeful.

Through your generosity, God has allowed us not only to meet our Erskine Annual Fund goal, but exceed it by more than we could have thought possible. We saw an increase in nearly every category of giving and types of donors.

With the single exception of the returns in the stock market, we anticipate meeting or exceeding each of the goals for this first year of the two-year financial stability plan. When the 2014-15 financial audit is complete, it will show substantial progress in three categories that are vital to our continued accreditation and financial health: 1) reduced dependence on the endowment; 2) improved net tuition revenue, and 3) an increase in net unrestricted assets.

This fall we are on track to see an even larger incoming class than last year, with more than 220 new students and an increase in overall undergraduate population. We are already near capacity in the men’s residence halls and have to make adjustments to our housing plans to accommodate everyone.

Each of these is a reason for thanksgiving. I am thankful for the unity I have seen within the Erskine community — even in the midst of tremendous diversity. And I am thankful for the generosity you, our alumni and friends, have shown.

Moving forward into 2015-16, I am praying for even more unity and continued generosity. I have said many times this past year, and will probably say it often this next year: in order for Erskine to truly succeed, we must all pull together in the same direction.

I look forward to working together with you to do that in the year ahead.

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