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Financial Report Shows First Surplus Since '68

By Seth M. Kupferberg

For the first time since 1968, Harvard's operating accounts showed a surplus in fiscal year 1972.

The annual Financial Report, released yesterday figures the endowment at $1.4 billion, up $100 million from last year and making Harvard the world's richest university.

It also records the highest yearly expenses in the University's history and lists a $17 million investment in Gulf Oil, unchanged by Afro's divestiture campaign last Spring.

The report is the first to use a unit accounting system adopted in 1970 to make clear how much money earmarked for future use belongs to each department. In the past, it was impossible to tell and whatever income a department did not spend immediately was re-invested for the whole University.

>Though the surplus in unrestricted funds was small--$177,000 in the $204 million budget-it reversed a recent trend toward larger deficits, caused mainly by increases in a pavroll that now exceeds $100 million.

>Salary savings, mainly through job attrition and a decline in the number of graduate students and scholarships account for the unexpected surplus. Hale Champion financial vice-president said yesterday.

"False Spring"

Champion said that loosening the "quality controls" on hiring, or other unpredictable factors- a fall in government control for example--could make this year surplus a "false spring".

But an analytic supplement to the Financial Report prepared by his office is cautiously optimistic.

The relative scarcity of graduate students. Champion said, is mainly due to the high unemployment rate they face.

"You try not to get people into dead-end, areas where there are no jobs," he said.

Harvard's 700,000 shares of Gulf Oil stock are just one of several controversial investments. The University also holds shares in Honeywell and Polaroid, among others.

But the Gulf investment assumed special prominense last Spring when black students occupied Massachusetts Hall, demanding that Harvard well its stock in Gulf to protest the company's involvement in Portuguese Angola.

Only for Profit

Harvard sold stock during fiscal year 1972 only for profit. George F Bennett 33, Harvard's treasurer said yesterday.

Federal contracts with Harvard are mainly with the Medical School and the School of Public Health Champion said.

"We don't have much Defense Department contracting and we don't have any classified contracting" he said. "MIT must have $30 million a year and I don't think we have more than three"

Under the new assuming system, each department of the University was assigned units worth $100 each in the general investment fund, according to how much each department had contributed to the fund through alumni gifts, tuition and other income.

By seeing how much the units value increases--they were up to $135 each in June, two years after the new system began--the department can tell not only how much the interest its investment is earning, but also how the investment's value has increased.

Under the old system, a fund's unspent earnings were plowed back into the general investment fund, so the fund did not grow as it would have with compound interest. A $1 gift given 200 years ago therefore earned no more interest than a $1 gift given recently.

Less Recent Gifts

By permitting such funds to grow, the new system gives greater weight to less recent gifts. In effect, it means that a donation, for a specific purpose today will be more important in 20 years than an equal donation then.

This conservative function of the unit system is not apparent yet, Champion said, and its possible existence has not affected the level of donations.

In fact, Champion said, the system has had little effect so far even on the distribution of money within the University. "What it's done is given everybody an understanding of what's happening, of which money does what job." Champion said.

"It hasn't changed the pattern, but it's made clear what it is," he went on

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