In 1693, King William III and Queen Mary II granted a charter for the College of William and Mary in Virginia. They strove to “establish a certain place of universal study, or perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good Arts and Sciences.”
Over three hundred years later, the school aims to live by the scholarly tradition of royal family. However, a deeper look at 2016 William and Mary budget allocation questions the pillars of that mission statement.
Post recession cuts
Similar to most public universities, the College of William and Mary has always relied on state funding to constitute a large portion of its budget. However, following the recession, most states severely reduced spending on higher education.
As of 2015, the Commonwealth of Virginia spends almost 25 percent less on the average student than in 2008. Tuition rates at the college rose significantly by over $5,000 per student from 2013-2017. If the college wanted to educate the best and brightest regardless of socioeconomic background, how could they justify a skyrocketing cost of education?
Where the school is investing
In response to unreliable state funding, William and Mary embarked on an enormous fundraising campaign to increase private financial support. This meant increasing expenditures in areas that could gain the confidence of donors, even if such spending does not directly relate to student education.
William and Mary recently spent $28 million to renovate Zable Football Stadium, adding 11 brand new suites along with a 7,000 square foot press box. Furthermore, a report released in 2015 outlines future expenditures of over $100 million to increase coaches’ salaries, available scholarships, practice facilities, and operating budgets. These improvements certainly boost interest surrounding the sports teams, especially for parents and alumni – it’s a lot easier to write checks in a luxury box than on the bleachers.