In 1990 the school received $14.4 million from
the WCG of its $20 million budget for 1,200 students.
During the 1995-96 academic year, the university
received a $5 million subsidy to support a $12.5 million budget for 760
"That represented a rather remarkable reduction
of $9.5 million in subsidy over just a five-year period," Dr. Duke
commented. "And yet here we are, still standing, still debt-free as
an institution. God-willing, that's how we'll remain."
Before hearing of the elimination of the church's
subsidy, he wrote that, for the 1996-97 academic year, the university anticipated
receiving $1.2 million cash from the church to support a $9.6 million budget--a
reduction of almost $4 million in a year.
The president sees further downsizing and greater
sacrifice by faculty and staff. The university has limited cash reserves,
he said, which will let it operate debt-free through the 1996-97 academic
year and possibly the year after that.
Because of the subsidy cuts and the desire not
to cut into cash reserves, Dr. Duke said the university is stepping up its
"During the 1995-96 fiscal year, we processed
almost $1.5 million in gifts and grants from individuals, corporations and
foundations," he said.
Fees to students have gradually increased since
1990, when tuition stood at $90 a unit, where it had been for at least two
With incremental increases over the past six years,
tuition has gradually increased to $125 a unit for the coming year. Dr.
Duke said this is less than half the average charged by private schools
of similar size and type.
"Our dilemma lies in the need to increase
tuition, room and board in order to meet our bills, and at the same time
accommodate the budgetary concerns of our students already enrolled at the
university. But we no longer can afford to give away the store, so to speak,
and still expect to operate a successful university. So we plan another
tuition increase to $175 a unit in 1997."
He said that the university is taking steps to
stabilize enrollment, including efforts to attract students from the "greater
Christian community," including ads in Christianity Today magazine
and its sister publication, Campus Life.
"We are also recruiting heavily from high
schools here in East Texas," Dr. Duke said. "However, most people
in East Texas know us for our past exclusivity, so we have an enormous task
ahead of us. It's not an unsurmountable [sic] one, however--just one that
will take time."
In spite of the financial problems, "at the
same time, exciting change permeates Ambassador. Twelve majors are now available.
We have several new students who come from other Christian denominations,
and they are adapting well and have brought a renewed optimism to the campus."
He said AU's sports teams "have committed
Christian athletes and coaches. We expect them to be much improved this
Dr. Duke mentioned that, in an economy move, the
university has contracted with the Marriott Corp. to manage its student
He said that, though the school's major focus continues
to be the education of youths of the WCG, AU wants to recruit students from
The university's board will also expand to include
regents who are not WCG members.
"This should strengthen Ambassador's presence
and impact in the Christian community, especially in East Texas," Dr.
Duke said. "In addition, faculty, staff and students are free to worship
with the church of their choice.
"As you can see, there is a lot to be positive
and optimistic about. "And yet, the financial realities are staring
us squarely in the face . . . Ambassador has helped us through its many
years, and I believe the majority of alumni desire to see it thrive."
He suggested the following ways alumni could help:
- Personal donations. "Our greatest need is
for unrestricted gifts for our operating budget. Last fall, we raised more
than $16,000 in response to my fund-raising letter to you."
- Corporate gift-matching.
- Student recruitment.
- Establishing, either individually or with other
alumni, student scholarships.