BRISTOL, Va. - Virginia Intermont College lacks enough funds to offer faculty members contracts for the 2007-08 academic year, a college leader announced Tuesday, prompting pleas for donations and talk of merger with another college.
"Like all small private institutions of higher education, financial stability continues to be a challenge for us because tuition revenue falls short of operational expenses," VI President Michael J. Puglisi said in a news release.
Efforts to reach Puglisi and VI spokeswoman Lisa Mitchell by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Despite the deficit, Puglisi said in the news release that the college would remain open as leaders attempted to shore up finances. Enrollment figures were increasing for fall, he said, and college officials and trustees were working to increase endowment funds.
"Tuition revenue never fully supports the operating expenses," Puglisi said. "Therefore we must increase our endowment to meet our expenses.
"Those who support the college and its mission are encouraged to show their generosity. "Once necessary funds are raised, we anticipate re-issuing the faculty contracts."
The VI president said the college was exploring all options, including a possible merger with another institution.
He also said the college's $18.8 million budget generates an economic impact on the Bristol region of $32.2 million annually.
"Individuals who have concern that young Christians continue to have this school available for their academic and moral education should give now," Puglisi said in the release.
He particularly called for help from "those to whom the nation's finest equestrian program might be of strong interest."
Founded in 1884, VI has grown from a two-year school for women to a four-year, coeducational institution. The college is affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. Offering associate and bachelor's degrees, its programs include a nationally recognized equestrian studies department and national championship equine and cross-country teams.
According to the college's Web site, residential students pay about $24,000 per year to attend VI, with tuition, housing and a meal plan included. Off-campus students pay about $18,000 per year. Books and other personal expenses are not included in the figures.
More than 85 percent of VI students receive financial aid through scholarships, awards and grants, loans or work-study programs.
The college asked that donations be sent to Virginia Intermont College, 1013 Moore St., Bristol, Va. 24201.