The following is Chancellor Reaves’ address at the Donor Reception held at Diggs Gallery April 12, 2011.
Good afternoon everyone and thanks for joining us. I am extremely pleased to be with you today and to have the opportunity to personally thank you for making such a difference for our students and for this university.
Your investments in Winston Salem State have supported scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, technology upgrades, study abroad programs and a myriad of other efforts on our campus. And you should know that your financial assistance has truly made a difference in the lives of many young people.
I know I have told our donors before how important each and every dollar given to the university can be. Yet, that has never been more true than it is today.
As I’m sure you know, the State of North Carolina is facing a revenue shortfall that will result in fewer resources being available across all of state government. And while we still do not know the final results of the budget process, we know that beginning next fiscal year the UNC System will receive less in state appropriations.
For Winston-Salem State, that means yet another reduction in the resources we have available to support our Strategic Plan with its focus on student success. We have already seen a $20.9 million reduction in state funds since the 2008-2009 budget year. While we’ve taken steps to reduce our expenses, we’ve also seen tuition continue to rise for our students. This situation has made financial aid an even more critical need on our campus.
The late tennis great Arthur Ashe once said, “When bright young minds can’t afford college, America pays the price.” That has never been more true than today when we live in a highly competitive, global economy.
Beyond what has happened with the economy and the funding we receive, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have developed a reputation over the years of being able to “do more with less.” So, we send our students out to compete with graduates from universities that have far more resources.
Some of that “do more with less” mentality, however, has been our own fault. We have often come to you and other supporters asking that you give us something. When in fact, what we need for you, and for others to do, is make an investment in the future of our students, our community, our state and our nation.
We know the investments you have made will continue to pay dividends long after a student has graduated and moved on with his or her life.
Because you made it possible for a young lady to be the first person in her family to graduate from college, the odds are very strong that her children will attend college. Because you gave a young man the opportunity to broaden his horizons by studying abroad, you have created more options for his future. Because you made it possible for the university to hire a faculty member who was passionate about teaching, we will educate better teachers who may inspire their students to become educators.
So, I hope you see that everything you have done and everything you will do to support our students can have a lasting effect on them and on future generations. We know that as an institution we are facing a financial challenge. But we cannot and we will not lose focus on this university’s mission to graduate students who are successful in their careers and in their communities.
Thanks to you, the challenges can be a little easier.
Again, we appreciate you being with us this afternoon and we appreciate all you do for Winston-Salem State University and our students.