U needs to prepare for future cuts

University admins need to address future budget concerns by finding ways to save now.

Though stimulus funds will spare the University of Minnesota from state budget cuts this year, during the 2012-2013 biennium the University is not likely to be as lucky. The stimulus money is mostly delaying the inevitable cuts the University is going to have to make and it is in the best interest of this institution to start looking for ways to save in the budget beyond the savings of restructuring the Graduate School. Even the University Vice President of Budget and Finance Richard Pfutzenreuter acknowledged in a Tuesday Minnesota Daily article that the stimulus money may only delay University worker positions from being cut, with the possibility of hundreds losing their jobs in 2012 due to a shortage of University funds. Furthermore, the University would likely be forced to increase tuition for its students to help offset cuts. The stimulus is not a permanent solution to the long-term health of this institution. The University has addressed some budget concerns through hiring pauses, salary freezes, restructuring of the Graduate School and even offering a retirement incentive to alleviate job cuts. Some 449 employees took a retirement package that gave them three years of medical and dental coverage, but if they wanted to get reemployed they could only work at 19.5 hours per week without benefits. Despite making such decisions, administrators have done it by being reactive rather than proactive. The administration should not be waiting to see the fall out of the recession, but instead should look to take purposeful measures in addressing the current financial health of the University by assessing priorities in our budget.