Posts Tagged ‘bard’

Leon Botstein and the Future of Bard College

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Pictures from an Institution Interesting fact on #Bard College: Leon Botstein became president decades ago at 23

Leon Botstein made Bard College what it is, but can he insure that it
outlasts him?Profiles SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 ISSUE

Botstein graduated from high school at sixteen and went to the
University of Chicago, where he majored in history and founded the
school’s chamber orchestra. He began Ph.D. studies at Harvard,
focussing on the social history of modernist music in Vienna. In
Cambridge, he met his first wife, with whom he had two daughters. (He
has two more children from his second marriage.) In 1970, having left
Harvard to be a special assistant to the president of the New York
City Board of Education, Botstein took a job as president of Franconia
College, a small, now defunct institution in New Hampshire, run out of
a former resort hotel. At twenty-three, he was the youngest college
president that America had ever had. A 1971 profile that ran in
Playboy described him as “a bespectacled, long-haired youth” and
included a photo of him, in a rumpled shirt and a paisley tie, next to
an office door marked “President” in a curiously Tolkienesque font.

December, 2013, after a three-month review, Moody’s Investors Service
downgraded Bard’s bond rating three notches and revised its outlook to
“negative.” The Moody’s report cited Bard’s “exceedingly thin
liquidity with full draw on operating lines of credit,” “weak
documentation and transparency,” “willingness to fund operations and
projects prior to payment on pledges,” and “growing dependence on cash
gifts.” (The report found that in 2012 and 2013 more than forty per
cent of annual operating revenues came from gifts. Among other small
private colleges, about seven per cent is typical.) Six months
earlier, Bard had had monthly liquidity of $7.1 million—equal to just
two weeks’ worth of operating costs. Bard is highly leveraged,
carrying a hundred and sixty million dollars of debt, which is close
to its operating budget of a hundred and eighty-five million. The
undergraduate endowment (eighty million dollars) is a tenth that of
Vassar, a school that is comparable to Bard in both size and age and
is one Amtrak stop to the south.