Letter about Audited Financial Statements

Message from the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer

I am pleased to present the audited financial statements for Suffolk University for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021 (FY21). These statements reflect increased financial strength due to robust operating performance and investment returns. Underlying the financial results was the fundamental strength of the Suffolk community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resiliency and creativity of the campus community in light of the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 allowed the University to move forward confidently to carry out daily operations as well as continue progress on key initiatives contained in the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan. The University celebrated the graduates of 2020 and 2021 during two days of commencement exercises at Fenway Park in May 2021, which recognized the irrepressible spirit of the Suffolk community.

The University recorded a positive operating result of $7.2 million in FY21, which included a surplus of $8.3 million from activities without donor restrictions. This outcome resulted in part from receipt of a $17 million unrestricted bequest gift from an anonymous donor and $4.9 million in federal funding for institutional use under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act to replace lost revenue (an additional $2.5 million of federal funding received was awarded to Suffolk for allocation directly to students to assist them with financial impacts of COVID-19).

At the same time, Suffolk incurred $11.3 million of expenses resulting from COVID-19 suppression and management efforts on campus. These expenses included costs to lease hotel rooms in order to allow each student living on campus a separate room, costs associated with our rigorous on-campus COVID-19 testing program, and expenses associated with safety upgrades, enhanced cleaning, and the purchase of personal protective equipment. The University treated these expenses as extraordinary, non-operating expenses for financial statement purposes.

Net assets grew to $374 million at June 30, 2021, which represented an increase of $55 million from the prior year, and the University’s endowment strengthened to $306 million. A 28.8% return on the long-term investment pool contributed to this growth. In addition, the University maintained a strong liquidity position and could access a total of $252 million on a daily basis from operating cash holdings and the long-term investment pool as of June 30, 2021. This amount represents more than one year of operating expenses.

Momentum on Suffolk 2025 strategic plan initiatives was sustained and bolstered during FY21, in spite of the necessary focus on COVID-19 mitigation. The University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was recognized with a national 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. In addition, Suffolk operated the new 1 Court Street residence hall for its initial year and refinanced the line of credit that had provided interim funding for the purchase and renovations of the property with issuance of the long-term Series 2021 bonds. Investment in the Center for Career Equity, Development & Success ramped up as the organization grew to more than 20 professionals who specialize in different industries and work with a variety of partners on behalf of current Suffolk students and alumni. The University also successfully completed the implementation of Workday Financials in the spring of 2021 – both on time and below budget. This module represents the third of four Workday modules that the University has been implementing over a number of years beginning in 2015 to modernize its core operating system. Implementation of Workday Student, the final module, commenced in the summer of 2021 and is expected to extend through fall 2024.

As the University managed the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in FY21, Moody’s Investors Service (Baa2, stable outlook) and Fitch Global Ratings (BBB, stable outlook) affirmed their ratings of the University as well as the stable outlooks. The agencies highlighted Suffolk’s solid liquidity, financial flexibility, capital investment, favorable urban location, and diverse program mix as key credit strengths.

Suffolk University’s positive financial results and solid financial position in FY21 provide a strong base from which to return to near-normal operations while addressing the continued impacts of COVID-19 in FY22. Our recovery is founded on the enduring commitment of the Suffolk community to our students and the continued investment in the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan initiatives that prepare us for long-term success.

See our detailed financial statements [PDF].

Laura Sanders signature

Laura Sander
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration and Treasurer