The most recent Georgian Court University rating from Moody’s Investor Services has climbed to “stable,” thanks to positive shifts in GCU’s economic stance and enrollment outlook.
The university’s stable rating is up from a previous negative outlook and takes into consideration GCU’s increased enrollment, improved cash flows, and growing partnership programs.
“The rating affirmation factors in management’s expense management initiatives as well as its short- and long-term planning, which enables the university to adapt in a highly competitive environment,” Moody’s wrote in its February 10 rating of Georgian Court. “The rating is further supported by healthy, unrestricted financial resources and liquidity for the rating category and a low debt burden.”
The report is especially timely as GCU leaders are completing a new strategic plan to guide continued progress.
“We are very pleased that Moody’s recognizes the significant energy and effort that has gone into our recruitment and resource management processes,” said Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., president of GCU. “Interest in obtaining a Georgian Court degree has never been higher and will continue to grow as we expand the GCU educational footprint throughout New Jersey.”
Moody’s expects GCU to further strengthen its position financially—with stable operating cash flow and adequate debt service coverage—and through modest enrollment growth. During Fall 2016, GCU enrolled 1,916 full-time undergraduate and graduate students, up from 1,735 a year earlier.
Much of the change is attributed to growing interest in master’s-degree programs for educators—especially through the GCU’s partnership with the K–12 Alliance (KTA). More than 300 are currently taking GCU classes through KTA at GCU off-sites in Essex, Union, Somerset, Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, and Burlington counties. In addition, the university is seeing steady increases among transfer students and more first-time, full-time college students pursuing degrees in fields like nursing, business, biology, and exercise science.
The investment service also cited GCU’s recent $10-million facilities improvement program, which included New Jersey state bond-funded projects and university-funded upgrades to Maria Hall, the largest residence hall on campus. Moody’s also mentioned significant gains in the university’s first-year student retention rate, now at 85 percent and up from 78 percent in 2015.
“This is a very positive step in the right direction,” said Lesa Lardieri-Wright ’75, chair of the GCU Board of Trustees.
“GCU leaders, including President Marbach and CFO John Sommer, are among the many who made this happen by bringing a focused, innovative approach to the challenges, and being willing to do the hard work to make the improved outlook a reality,” she said. “We also appreciate our GCU trustees who serve on the board’s Finance Committee—alongside GCU administration and staff—for their steady guidance and advice over the past few years.”