- Moody's Investor Service has downgraded Bard College for the second time in three years, citing the school's dependence on donor gifts, lines of credit and endowment withdrawals for its primary revenue sources.
- Bard officials say the college's current financial strategy has not failed in the 40 years since its implementation, pointing to the fact that the institution has never missed a bond payment.
- Acquisitions of large properties and support of fine arts projects, observers say, are at the root of Bard's financial troubles, which with any enrollment difficulties, could spell immediate doom for the institution.
Bard's struggles are not a unique story in the higher education landscape, particularly for small liberal institutions. But its insistence on maintaining certain levels of spending against dwindling cash resources is a unique approach to financial management, and could place the institution in the crosshairs of new regulations on financially risky colleges.
Additionally, the school's track record of attracting donors could run short with news of its financial issues, which previously had not become a subject of national attention. Bard's profile is at the heart of Moody's recent report on smaller institutions with low enrollments, suggesting that the business model of niche liberal arts education may be a dying entity in the higher education landscape.