Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Financial aid a topic of Chancellor’s Roundtable

One message from the Chancellor’s Roundtable Feb. 27 was loud and clear: As with other schools, the cost of DU keeps rising, and students want help.

Help, Chancellor Robert Coombe said, could come from increased financial aid, which could occur if the University’s endowment was larger.

“We worry about [the cost of tuition] all the time,” Coombe told about 20 students at the roundtable. “Our objective in building our endowment … is for exactly this reason … to generate a revenue stream beyond tuition.”

The chancellor commented on a variety of issues in the open forum, which is held each academic quarter.

But it was the talk about financial aid that appeared to make the biggest impact. As of Dec. 31, the University’s endowment was valued at about $291 million, says Margaret Henry, controller and assistant treasurer of the University.

Coombe said at the roundtable that at current levels, tapping the endowment for student financial aid is “beyond [the University’s] means.” Increasing the endowment, however, could generate more scholarships and financial aid. DU’s fundraising efforts are largely focused on building the endowment, says Scott Lumpkin, assistant vice chancellor for University Advancement.

Coombe also fielded questions about academic diversity. One student raised concerns that DU would become “one-dimensional” due to the growth of the Daniels College of Business and that fewer resources would be available for other departments in the future.

Coombe expressed concern over the high number of students in the business school — almost half the student population — but said that the worry was Daniels’ and would not affect other academic programs.

“The University as a whole achieves balance very nicely,” Coombe said.

Another student challenged the new ticket system for undergraduate Commencement, which was launched in February and which limits the number of tickets each graduate can have.

“I’ll be the first from my family to graduate college,” said one student, who said he was worried he would not be able to get enough tickets for his entire family.

Coombe defended the system, saying that the University must restrict the number of tickets because attendance is so large. It’s a “fairly flexible ticket system,” Coombe said. Students are asked to request tickets by March 14. The Registrar’s Office will then notify students how many tickets they will receive for Commencement.

Overall, students reacted positively but cautiously to Coombe’s comments. “I think [Coombe] understands the issues, but it’s going to take a lot more than dialogue,” said international studies major Triveni Gandhi.

Kyle Leigh, an international business major, praised the chancellor for being open to ideas. But, he said, “We’re only here for four years and these processes take a lot longer than that.”

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