Thursday, September 24, 2009

Universities and the recession - not all the news is bad

Just about everybody is getting hurt by the recession. About a year ago, I heard someone from a particular university assuring the public that the university's endowment was huge, and able to survive the recession. A year later...

Steep investment losses have caused painful cutbacks at some of the nation’s best-known universities over the most recent fiscal year and have prompted questions about whether their endowments are taking too much risk.

The New York Times article mentioned one leading university:

Yale disclosed the details of its year, reporting an investment loss of 24.6 percent, compared with an average drop of 17.2 percent for large funds, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

And those of us who live in California realize that publicly-funded schools aren't doing so well either.

Yet there are opportunities for universities, as a separate New York Times article notes:

As the recession prompts many adults, some jobless, to return to school, including community colleges and technical institutes, commercial real estate professionals said schools were expanding into former offices as well as theaters.

Not only are the institutes getting an upsurge in students, but it's easier for them to acquire the new real estate that they need:

“Because schools of higher education do have a limit on the rent they can pay, they are intrigued now by the rents dropping by 20 or 30 percent,” Mr. Lipinski said. “So the combination of increased demand, being opportunistic and rents being reduced has made them more of a player right now in the office market than they have been in the past.”

Which only goes to show you that the recession can be an opportunity, not a catastrophe, for some people.

(Picture source, license)
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