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UNE looks to future from solid financial ground with strong ratings from Moody’s and Fitch

University of New England

February 02, 2017

The University of New England is pleased to announce that it has received a financial rating of A3 by Moody’s Investors Service and an A- from Fitch ratings. This is the first time UNE has received financial rankings from either service. UNE President Danielle Ripich and Vice President of Finance and Administration Nicole Trufant received notice of the ratings while attending the most recent meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) in New York City.

Moody’s credit opinion report on the university states, “The A3 is anchored by UNE’s growing market presence as a health sciences focused university with strong student demand, favorable operating performance, and increasing flexible reserves. The rating also incorporates management’s thoughtful planning and careful execution, which has resulted in a significant strengthening of the university credit quality over the last decade.”

Among other assets of the university, the report makes note of UNE’s “substantial market growth over the last five years” (an increase of 32 percent); “very good programmatic diversity” within the health sciences and the arts and sciences, “with a breadth of degree types and delivery formats;” and spendable cash and investments that have nearly tripled to $118 million in the last five years.

The Fitch Ratings report points to several key ratings drivers including sound financial management, moderate debt burden and enrollment growth. The report states, “UNE has grown total FTE [full time equivalent] enrollment by over 30% in the past five years, largely by adding or expanding its graduate and professional programs in the health and social sciences fields. UNE has solid overall demand at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has been very effective in aligning its offerings to the market.”

Ripich said of the reports, “Moody's and Fitch have confirmed what we know about the University of New England. We have financial depth, which will secure the future for our students and the longevity of the University. The institution’s financial leadership is reflected in this ranking.”

The Moody’s report praises Ripich, referring to her as “the driving force behind the university’s rapid growth.”  While acknowledging that she will retire at the end of the academic year, it notes that the “overall stability among the board and senior leadership will enable the university to stay on track…”  The report further adds that “with long-term financial plans that incorporate reasonable assumptions, the university is well positioned to maintain its strong financial position and bolster financial reserves.”

Trufant agrees that the ratings bode well for the university as it navigates the upcoming transition. “Moody's and Fitch’s recognition of our significant enrollment growth in connection with strategic planning has led the University to this positive rating.  Through the leadership of President Ripich and senior administration, the University of New England is well positioned for the future."

In May, Ripich was named a Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year, and she recently received the Robert R. Masterson Economic Growth Award from the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. The university’s economic impact report for academic year 2016 demonstrated that its total financial impact for the year across the state of Maine totaled more than $1 billion.

Read more in the Washington Post.

Read more in the Portland Press Herald.

Read more in MaineBiz.

Read about the Moody's rating in the Bangor Daily News.

Read about the Fitch rating in the Bangor Daily News.

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