Campus / National / News / February 11, 2009

Stimulus package could benefit Knox

Knox College has joined the ranks of companies and institutions hoping to cash in on the new stimulus bill to fix infrastructure and complete capital projects.

President Barack Obama’s $838 billion bill passed the senate with a vote of 61 to 37 on Tuesday. After further negotiations between the House and Senate, the plan could provide some much needed relief to the ailing economy.

Knox College has not been immune to the effects of the recession, as its endowment has decreased about 20% from $71.4 million on June 30, 2008 to $56 million at present.

However, President Roger Taylor offered some hope in the wake of Knox’s endowment decline. “Because the college uses a twelve-quarter trailing average […] in determining the spending rate (the amount that’s used in the endowment to support the budget), the budget support for the endowment is going to decline only modestly next fiscal year,” he said. “This year it’s $3,321,000 and change. Next fiscal year, we project $3,076, 072.”

In his State of the College Address, Taylor spoke about Knox’s goal of financial impregnability and what Knox is doing to brace for the recession.

“We are doing some things to be cautious in this recession. Dean [of Students Xavier] Romano and others on the senior staff and I have adopted a seven-point plan and some belt-tightening that ranges from deferring some construction projects, deferring capital projects, to putting a freeze on new positions [and] additional positions on the staff.”

To aid Knox’s recovery, Taylor has also submitted a list of potential projects to be considered for the new economic program.

“At the top I asked for $15 million for Alumni Hall and then at the bottom $100,000 for a recycling center. And then there were other things: primarily sustainability kind of projects like new tunnels for the chilled water and heat [… and] new windows; windows that keep heat in and cold out.”

Taylor’s requests are in keeping with the goals of the stimulus package, which promises to include programs that will create more jobs, promote clean energy, lower health care costs, and modernize infrastructure. According to the Associated Press, it could give a multi-billion-dollar boost in financial help for college students, as well as giving billions to colleges that have stalled construction projects. It would also prioritize colleges with high minority enrollments, schools rebuilding from disasters, and energy-saving projects.

According to the Knox website, Alumni Hall has yet to go through Phase II of its renovation of the interior of the building, which includes “all remaining aspects of the renovation and an endowment to fund operating costs associated with the new building.” The total cost to fund this phase of renovation is $17,712,500. Total gifts and grants received to date (June 2008) is $3,411,072, leaving $14,301,428 unaccounted for.

The Knox website says that when renewed, Alumni Hall “will serve as a cultural center, conference site, and a rich resource for heritage tourism surrounding the Lincoln-Douglas debates, abolitionism and the Underground Railroad.”

Sheena Leano

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