By: Kelly Young
Editor’s note: This was written in response to the editorial, Emphasize education, not upscale amenities, published in the Feb. 15 edition of the Optimist.
You’re likely aware from recent reporting by The Optimist and Abilene Reporter-News that we plan to open a new on-campus salon this spring. Research shows this to be a successful revenue-generating model for universities, as well as a service students desire (as reflected in surveys conducted by the Depot). JMC’s student-run ad/pr agency Morris & Mitchell has provided valuable marketing insights.
While we aim to make the extra-curricular ACU student experience as enjoyable as possible, fulfilling that goal is by no means our primary objective. Concerns have been expressed that the university is somehow shifting its focus away from its mission of educating our students. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our Business Services division already oversees auxiliary enterprises such as The Campus Store and the World Famous Bean. Anthony Williams and his team work with food service and other vendors to provide the meals, T-shirts, textbooks, snack food and other items available for purchase in venues across campus. These enterprises are an important but small component of the larger work we do here as faculty and staff.
The Business Services division is designed to provide services to the public as well as yield a profit that reduces the cost of operating the university. Funds generated by retail sales or donated by generous alumni create revenue help us keep tuition costs down and pay for administrative costs.
Even the most conservative projections show that new revenue from the salon will exceed expenses in the first year.
We remain deeply committed to providing the best Christ-centered education possible while, at the same time, meeting student needs for such things as excellent medical care, great dining, and convenient personal services. Robust auxiliary services and the highest quality academic programs are not mutually exclusive.
ACU is recognized for its overall quality and academic innovation, as well as for being a great value. And we’re constantly searching for ways to reduce the cost of a degree. The new annual block tuition plan, for example, is designed to help our students graduate sooner and save money. Yesterday, we announced a new $50 million affordability campaign to raise money for scholarships, and donors have already committed more than $15 million in advance of the announcement.
Our economy is challenging, but we owe you, our students, the best educational experience and environment we can provide.
Kelly Young is the Chief Financial Officer for the university.