Choosing to be Great

This phrase defines Boston University in the past, present, and future. Boston University has chosen to be great, even when resources were constrained and the path forward was not easy or obvious.

The most important interpretation is for the future. We are at a point in our institutional evolution where we must make the kinds of choices that will move the University forward. In other words, if we can’t do everything brilliantly at once—and we can’t—then we must make smart, difficult choices. We must make selective investments that will give us the biggest impact and which will do the most to improve the University’s overall standing in the years to come.

It is the academic equivalent of the rising tide that will float all boats.

So how will we choose to be great? The answer is relatively simple:

We will make major investments in our faculty to attract and retain the very best faculty. As explained in earlier sections, this is a competitive necessity—and it is also the right thing to do.

We will continue to make substantial investments in improving the quality of the educational and residential experiences of our undergraduates. We’ve done a lot of catching up in recent years, but more work remains to be done to create the urban, residential experience that can be unique to Boston University. Moreover, we will seize the opportunity to truly integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional education to take advantage of the academic diversity of our programs.

We will invest heavily in the College of Arts and Sciences. CAS is the foundation of our undergraduate experience, and its reputation is the bedrock of the University. We will support additional faculty positions and new classrooms, laboratories, and offices.

Similarly, we will invest in the College of Fine Arts. This is a true jewel in our crown, and one that pays us back handsomely, in reputational terms, for every investment that we make in it. We will support new performing arts practice and teaching spaces, as well as off-campus outreach, and transform CFA’s core facility on Commonwealth Avenue to present a welcoming face to Boston.

We will invest heavily in the Schools of Law, Management, and Medicine. These Schools are already recognized as strong players in their respective fields; our investments in them can only enhance their standing—a case of “good money after good.” We will support classroom and office spaces at the School of Law, graduate student housing at the School of Medicine, and an expansion of the School of Management faculty.

The chart below shows the projected incremental annual operational costs associated with the goals of the Plan:

Incremental annual expenditures proposed to fund initiatives in the strategic plan.  The proposed annual budget of $225 million per year will be grown over a decade by deploying operating revenue, income from endowment, and increased gift support.

We will build these budgets over the next decade and in this process implement our plans. When we are finished, the annual cost of our improvements will be approximately $225 million per year.

How will we fund these changes? The answer is threefold: through careful deployment of our revenues from operations, gifts, and increased income from endowment. Over the next decade, the cost of the Plan will be nearly $1.8 billion dollars as we ramp up our commitment; the chart below estimates the sources of funding for these expenditures. It also illustrates the point that BU intends to ask alumni and other donors for less than half of the projected capital dollars that will be needed. In keeping with our tradition of energy and enterprise in the face of difficult choices, we will fund almost sixty percent of these initiatives from the operating budget and debt financing; we will use the operating model that has worked so well for decades to move us forward. Still, we will need the help of our friends and alumni if the vision for our future is going to come to reality.

The plan calls for total funding of $1.8 billion over a decade. This pie chart shows the proposed sources of this funding among operations, debt, income from endowment, and gifts.

As it has at regular intervals in the past, Boston University is choosing to be great. We invite you to join us in this historic enterprise, as we advance “Boston’s University.”