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August 1, 2017

University Statement on Recovered Documents

On August 8, Assistant Vice President of Communications Jeremy Manier offered an e-mail statement to The Maroon on the documents.

"We recently learned that paper copies of documents containing confidential information related to University planning and operations ​have been inappropriately obtained. The documents include internal drafts, preliminary observations, point-in-time unaudited financial estimates and incomplete working documents. In particular, the partial information on budgeting for some University units is incomplete without the context of the University’s balance sheet and related information.

In the last decade the University has made important investments to maintain and enhance its eminence, including increased financial support for undergraduates and graduate students, greater resources for faculty, improvements to the College and campus life, and new or expanded academic programs and activities. To help sustain these ambitious efforts, the University’s financial plan included a certain number of years of Board-approved, planned deficits that enable strategic investments.

Although the documents that were inappropriately obtained reflect a moment in time, they do not contain audited information on the state of the University’s finances. They also do not take into account major factors such as revenue from fundraising for the endowment, investment returns, and patient revenue from the medical center. The authoritative report on University finances is provided annually through the official, audited financial statements, which are available to anyone on the University website. We expect the FY2017 balance sheet to show strong investment returns and fundraising results, both of which facilitate continued investments in innovative programming, student financial aid and other critical efforts. Our endowment investments are consistent with the fiduciary obligation of the investment office and the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees to support the University’s long-term academic mission.

The University regularly reviews the budget progress of individual units and the institution as a whole, and these snapshots change over the course of a given year, as a budget is by its nature a living document that must be monitored for changed circumstances as they arise throughout the year. Each school and division is responsible for setting priorities and a plan for meeting its own budget targets, adjusting goals for revenue and expenses as needed.

College Admissions has been an area of notable strength for some time, with considerable long-term improvements in areas such as applications, campus visits, yield, diversity, and indicators of academic ability. We are proud that this year’s outstanding incoming class continues to embody the gains the College has made. Official figures on the incoming class will be available once students matriculate this fall.

In recent years the President and Provost have conducted a number of briefings on the full picture of the University’s financial picture and budgetary outlook, including meetings with specific departments as well as the Council of the Faculty Senate, and such updates will continue."

On August 11, Manier sent another pair of statements commenting on elements of the documents that touched on budgetary issues.

“The University of Chicago’s finances are sound and have continued to grow stronger in the last year. The University anticipates that record fundraising and strong investment performance in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017 will combine to increase the endowment to a record level for FY 2017. Our credit ratings remain in the Double-A category from all three major rating agencies, and this strong financial position will facilitate continued investment to maintain and enhance the eminence of the University.”

On academic decisions:

“Academic decisions, including what courses are offered, are made solely by deans in consultation with faculty members and other academic leaders. Deans have authority over academic direction and resource allocation within their schools or divisions. An undated and unsigned document of informal notes does not constitute University policy, and it is not representative of programming and budget decisions within units.”

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