University President Fr. John Jenkins led the spring 2014 town hall meeting Monday in Washington Hall, which focused on campus expansion projects as well as ways to improve Notre Dame for future students.Jenkins discussed the importance of constantly adapting and revising Notre Dame, making it better for the future.“Notre Dame’s commitment to education, scholarly engagement, internationality and faith sets it apart as an outstanding research university.” Jenkins said. “Everybody should be asking questions. Everyone should be engaged in discovering new truths — that is what sets Notre Dame apart from other top schools.”Jenkins described the “Strategic Plan”, which involves many important additions to the campus.“The current residence halls are filled to 106 percent, which is a major problem,” Jenkins said.In response, the University will build two new residence halls behind Grace Hall. Other projects include a new architecture building, Nanovic Hall, Jenkins Hall, a new research complex and the expansion of the Hesburgh Library.Katie McCarty | The Observer Jenkins also addressed the Campus Crossroads Project, which aims to maximize use of space around Notre Dame stadium.“One of the goals is to keep the campus compact — Notre Dame is a walking campus, and it should always be a walking campus,” Jenkins said. “This project will work because it will recapture space that isn’t being used but is still in the walking zone.”According to Jenkins, new buildings will be built around the stadium including new professor offices, a music building and a new student center.Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves also discussed the “ImproveND Project”, which is essentially a survey to identify the school’s weaknesses and strengths.The survey showed that Notre Dame is strongest in campus safety, library services and fitness and recreation services, he said. Lower scores were in timeliness and openness to suggestions, campus eateries and catering and performance management.The president and faculty are constantly working to identify areas of improvement, set achievable goals and monitor progress in order to create accountability and show commitment to justice and fairness in light of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, Jenkins said. These changes are working to modernize and evolve Notre Dame to keep in competitive among top international universities.The question is whether Fr. Sorin would look at Notre Dame today and see the fulfillment of his dream for the University, Jenkins said.“If we’ve done our job, Sorin would look around and say ‘this is what I dreamed of,” Jenkins said.Tags: Campus Crossroads, Fr. John Jenkins, town hall meeting
“As well as a record year for claims, we saw pension scheme funding worsen during 2012-13 and, although long bond yields have recovered a little since then, scheme funding remains at low levels,” she said.Discussing its investment performance, chief executive Alan Rubenstein noted that the 11.1% return equated with investment gains of £1.6bn, partially boosted by its hedging activity keeping pace with increasing liabilities.“Returns on our managed assets, which ignores the impact of hedging, were also positive, outpacing their benchmark by 4.6%,” he added.The PPF’s assets under management rose to £14.9bn, of which only £1.2bn remained invested in equities due to the fund’s approach of avoiding the same risk it is exposed to through company insolvencies.Nearly all assets remain invested in debt instruments – covering assets including derivatives, repo agreements and sovereign and corporate debt.The fund also noted that the reported financial year was the first under the new levy framework, linking payments to the risk that individual schemes pose to the PPF, and saw an increase in expected payments.“Under these new rules, we saw a fall in the number of contingent assets and other risk-reduction measures submitted for individual levy purposes,” it said.“This meant we collected about 18% more for the 2012-13 levy year than our original £550m estimate.”The report explained that the fall in contingent assets was a product of the fact that many of the ones put forward “failed to provide a genuine reduction in the scheme’s risk”.James Walsh, policy lead at the National Association of Pension Funds, said the fact the PPF’s finances were sustainable was “welcome news”.“Although the PPF is now more confident of hitting its long-term targets, the average levy paid by individual pension schemes is set to increase in the short term, and this remains a concern,” he said.“The NAPF remains committed to working with the PPF on keeping the levy affordable.” The UK Pension Protection Fund (PPF) returned more than 11% last year and was able to increase its funding to nearly 110%, according to its 2012-13 annual report.However, the lifeboat scheme also collected levy payments nearly 20% above its initial £550m (€644m) estimate, after a lower than expected use of contingent assets by defined benefit (DB) schemes saw them fail to offset charges.The PPF saw the likelihood of its achieving self-sufficiency by 2030 – no longer relying on the levy to fund its activities – increase to 87%, and reported a £1.8bn surplus, equating with a funding level of £109.6%.Chairman Lady Barbara Judge said the fund remained “firmly on our glide path” to self-sufficiency, despite the risks facing the PPF remaining high.