St. Mary's remains financially strong, committed to excellence

We at St. Mary's College of Maryland appreciate the vote of confidence in the enduring value and appeal of our college expressed in The Sun's recent editorial ("Strength of St. Mary's," June 10).

As chair of the St. Mary's College Board of Trustees, I am pleased to report that our search for an interim president is currently underway. A committee comprising faculty, staff and board members is involved in this process, and we expect to have an interim president in place by early August.

That individual is likely to serve for at least one year while a search for our next president moves forward. The search process will include representatives from students, faculty, staff and alumni, and will begin soon.

In the area of admissions, we continue to recruit students for the Class of 2017. A faculty-staff advisory committee on admissions has begun meeting and will continue to do so throughout the summer. An external reviewer will perform an overall evaluation of our admission operations as we move forward to build the Class of 2018.

St. Mary's College remains financially strong, and we greatly value the support we have received from the Maryland General Assembly, which approved a two-year tuition freeze that will culminate in a guaranteed 9 percent increase in our block grant.

In addition, fundraising has steadily increased. One of our most recent gifts from the parent of a recent graduate will provide $1 million for need-based financial aid. Meanwhile, a student-faculty-staff budget committee has already identified $3.5 million in budget reductions — without incurring faculty or staff lay-offs.

Throughout this difficult time, the support of the St. Mary's community has been invaluable — as evidenced this past weekend by a record number of more than 1,400 at our annual Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Gail Harmon

The writer is chair of the St. Mary's College of Maryland Board of Trustees.

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