A letter from President Heather J. Knight
January 13, 2014
For the past four years, Pacific Union College has been on a consistent upward trajectory and is experiencing historic success under the current leadership of the PUC Board of Trustees and the College administration. PUC now enjoys its highest enrollment in the past 24 years, the freshman to sophomore retention rate has increased from 71% to 85%, and the College has just been ranked in the top 13% nationally for return on investment. Additionally, PUC has completed multiple on-campus renovation projects, and there is a renewed sense of mission and promise shared by students, faculty, and staff.
Pacific Union College now looks ahead to making important decisions to ensure that this incredible education in this one-of-a-kind, pristine setting is available to future generations of students. As the College evaluates these decisions, we keep central our core educational mission and our calling to be stewards of our assets and of the earth. Consistent with this mission and calling, PUC is taking significant action to secure its precious forest and grow its endowment so that future students may be blessed by this legacy of faith and stewardship.
Of the College’s incredible natural assets, most treasured are the 900 acres of wonderful forestlands and the many miles of trails that are enjoyed by so many. PUC is committed to ensuring the protection and preservation of these sacred assets. Indeed, PUC understands its role as steward of these precious campus and community resources, and the College’s leadership is committed to their preservation.
A healthy, financially secure PUC will ensure that these assets are protected for the future, and only a strong, growing endowment can truly provide for the preservation of our heritage. Increased enrollment and annual giving alone will not correct PUC’s systemic financial challenges. Most healthy and sustainable colleges derive a large percentage of their annual revenues from endowment income. PUC is overly dependent on tuition revenues, a condition that is not only unsustainable, but makes achieving important and necessary institutional goals impossible. Additionally, while our generous alumni are increasingly supporting PUC, the percentage of alumni who support the College through giving remains far below the national average. Clearly, growing our endowment to preserve our resources and further our mission is essential.
For this reason, the PUC Board of Trustees has chosen to monetize some select assets, while remaining committed to preserving the large percentage of the property that is so essential to the character of the College. Out of its 1,860-plus acres of land holdings, PUC is committed to keeping over two-thirds of its property. This can only be achieved through the careful stewardship and monetizing of other select land holdings, particularly the smaller, agriculturally-zoned area east of the airport. And while the size of the property being evaluated for sale is small, the potential benefits to the College are considerable: the dramatic growth of the endowment to a historic amount, the restriction of 100% of net proceeds to our endowment, and the ability of the College to preserve and protect its forest for the future. Most importantly, the growth of our endowment would secure PUC’s ability to complete its mission for the future, including providing additional funding for much needed student scholarships as well as enhanced compensation for its dedicated faculty and staff.
Some of you may have read an article that recently appeared in the Napa Valley Register regarding a lawsuit that the College was compelled to file. Much of the information in that article is inaccurate and incomplete. Given the pending lawsuit, however, the College will refrain from responding publicly other than to state that at this time a sale has not been completed. If and when one is completed, PUC’s administration will share an immediate announcement with the campus and community, making clear the relevant terms of that transaction, as soon as standard legal confidentiality agreements allow.
We continue to be grateful for the interest of alumni, College staff and students, community members, and other key stakeholders. Pacific Union College has been an excellent and generous neighbor as well as a thoughtful steward in Napa County for over 100 years, and we will continue to make every effort to balance the needs of the College with the interests of the local community in this distinctive locale. We thank you for your continued interest and prayers.
Heather J. Knight
President, Pacific Union College
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