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Corcoran reveals cost of New College hotel deals

Written by on Saturday, September 30, 2023

At NC Foundation board meeting, fundraising was a secondary issue.

By Emy McGuire

Original Air Date: Sept. 29, 2023

Host: Due to the total makeover it is undergoing, the finances of New College are a moving target. At a recent board meeting of the New College Foundation – the fundraising arm of the campus – the interim president laid out some of the elements of the budget. Fundraising was a secondary issue during that meeting, as WSLR News’ Emy McGuire reports.

Emy McGuire: At a New College Foundation board meeting on Wednesday, Richard Corcoran, interim president of the school, disclosed the cost of the controversial decision to house 200 returning students in hotels. 

Corcoran said that New College had to spend $7 million in order to secure the hotels. He also said that his administration is working on long-term deals with at least two hotels.

Richard Corcoran: We’re working on long-term deals. We currently have Home2Suites, we have the Hyatt [Regency], but obviously we’re a faithful payer, obviously, we have fewer residences. And so we’re working on those deals with them right now. Hopefully in the next 60 days, we would lock in a two-year, two-and-half year deal. That would take us through 2024-25. … And we’re also at the same time, the legislature and the Board of Governors, we talked to them. We have a crisis, and they recognize that crisis. The Chancellor himself has walked through the Pei dorms.

E.M.: Many of the 200 students were under the impression that they would be living in the campus’s best-kept dorms, Dort and Gold, which are usually reserved for upper year students. The administration later decided Dort and Gold would exclusively house the new scholar athletes. Others were promised housing in the Pei  dorms, which have now been determined to be unlivable, due to what Corcoran called “shocking and outrageous” building conditions. 

Corcoran stressed that the college is in a housing crisis, due in part to the dilapidated Pei dorms, but also to the record enrollment numbers. 

The current student body stands at 730 students, 223 – almost a third – of which are the incoming class. Corcoran said he expects a class of 400-500 students next year, pushing New College to have a student body of nearly 1,000. In order to achieve this, Corcoran hopes to aim admissions at athletes until the school is composed of around one-third athletes. There was a dramatic drop in testing scores for the incoming class, two or three points for the average ACT score and around 100 points for the average SAT score. However, Corcoran predicted during the meeting that testing scores should only increase in the coming years. He said New College would accomplish this by offering scholarships to students who have tested well for the SAT or the ACT. 

The budget for athletics for this fiscal year is estimated at around $400,000. This will increase exponentially, Corcoran says, to around $1.5 million for 2024-2025. Corcoran continued his update with a tentative promise that master plans for the new envisioned campus could be done by March or February. 

Some board members expressed concern over how the foundation plans to raise so much money. Henry Smyth, director and investment manager was concerned about the lack of discussion of fundraising. Another board member applauded Corcoran on his vision for the future, but also offered words of caution. 

Board member:  You got a good future laid out. That will rally somebody like me … to join at this point. I’m deeply offended by many of the things that you laid at our feet in the past that were things that were beyond our control.

E.M.: Corcoran immediately apologized. 

R.C.: Very good counsel, and I sincerely apologize.

The issue of Corcoran’s salary and other pay was not discussed. The Foundation will have to come up with an estimated $600,000, the difference between the state cap on public university presidents’ salary and the compensation package New College trustees agreed to pay the interim president. 

This has been Emy McGuire, reporting for WSLR News.

WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our half-hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.