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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Faas

Financial analyst says Canisius is not in any immediate financial trouble

On Oct. 22, the Canisius College chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) brought in Dr. Howard Bunsis of Eastern Michigan University to present the results of his independent analysis of Canisius’s finances. The main conclusion of his presentation was, as he said, “Canisius is in adequate financial condition.”

The financial analysis was funded completely by donations from AAUP members and non-members of the Canisius faculty, as well as emeritus faculty and alumni through a GoFundMe campaign.

The spark for the financial analysis was the numerous faculty and staff layoffs during the summer of 2020. 96 layoffs were made by the Canisius administration without the knowledge of the faculty and were a result of the $20 million deficit Canisius incurred due to the pandemic.

The presentation was over Zoom and was attended by students, faculty and staff. It began with an introduction by Tanya Loughead, Ph.D., the president of the Canisius chapter of the AAUP. “If the administration and governing board will not share information with us — as is their duty to do — then we will seek ways of getting that information on our own,” Loughead said. “We are owed full information. We cannot make wise decisions without it. We want Canisius to succeed.”

Dr. Howard Bunsis is a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University as well as a CPA and an attorney. According to Dr. Loughead, Bunsis has studied the finances of over 100 other universities. Since he has zero affiliation with the college, the AAUP found him to be an unbiased external source of information, unlike Canisius’s own administration. Loughead said, “They could arrange and depict financial data in such a way as to justify their own plans; and sometimes, as we know too well, they can carry out those plans without even providing transparent financial justification.”

The 84-page report that Bunsis put together for the presentation detailed all of Canisius’s spending, from athletics to professor salaries. His main takeaway was the fact that each year, Canisius is losing about $4 million due to a poor financial plan.

The most concerning point to Bunsis was the pattern of a steep decline in enrollment that the college has been experiencing over the past five years. “The enrollment decline is unlike any I have ever seen. It is consistent over the last couple of years,” Bunsis said. “It is the worst I’ve seen.”

Bunsis also made sure to point out that faculty salaries have not grown in the last five years, nor have they had comparable salaries to partner schools.

“Over the last five years, there has been a much larger decline in institutional salaries versus administrative salaries,” Bunsis said. “As enrollment has declined, there has been a much larger decline in institutional salaries than in administrative and non-instructional salaries.”

To show just how much of a decline in enrollment there has been in the past six years, Bunsis displayed a statistic that indicated that from 2015 to 2022, there had been a 54.7% decline in enrollment in the Wehle School of Business.

According to the report, while Canisius has a low Forbes grade, “There still are sufficient reserves and operating cash flows so that the college is not in any financial danger.”

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