Yudof cuts budget

by Sarah Hallonquist

Not even a full year into his term, University President Mark Yudof is cutting his own budget in favor of academic funding.
By March 6, 10 administrative departments, including the Board of Regents, must complete a plan for cutting their own budgets. Resources will be transferred March 16 into an administrative cost-reduction account and allocated July 1 for academic needs.
A large portion of the $6.3 million in administrative cuts will be used for faculty and staff compensation. In trying to meet the salary goals former University President Nils Hasselmo set forth in matching faculty salaries at top research institutions, Yudof has also requested $19.5 million in the supplemental budget request for that purpose.
“The question is how quickly can we get there,” Yudof said.
When the funds are allocated in July, the University will have already received an answer from the Legislature on its funding requests. Decisions will be made then on how much raises will amount to.
At that point, he said, “That will be the top priority.”
In December, Yudof announced a plan for an 8 percent decrease in administrative costs. He set forth nine target areas from which a total of $6.3 million will be pulled. The Board of Regents also initiated a budget cut of their own by reducing trips and office supplies.
The president also requested a 2 percent charge on auxiliary revenues, such as bookstores and parking, at $1.5 million.
Within the budget cuts are guidelines for preserving quality and service while remaining efficient: Vacant positions can be eliminated if feasible, excessive workloads should be streamlined, and all decisions must be made within the terms of labor agreements.
“It’s inevitable that there will be reductions in some jobs in central administration,” said Robert Bruininks, executive vice president and provost. He added, however, that some job loss would be the result of cycles of resigning or retiring employees.
Regent Michael O’Keefe said he is supportive of the principles outlined in the reduction report because “the pain is shared” in several departments.
“It will lead to some good, solid decisions,” he said.
O’Keefe stressed his view that although the process promotes efficiency, it will not cut back on services. “It promises well to respond,” he said.
Although the future for further budget reductions is undefined, Yudof said others would not be as across-the-board and would be targeted more specifically.
For this first cut, the president did not involve academic departments because he said he felt colleges had absorbed too many cuts during the last five years.
Bruininks also said further cuts would be needed to address financial problems and needs in the coming years. These include long-term compensation for faculty and staff members, buildings costs and academic projects. He said the University will also need to raise between $10 and $20 million in addition to legislative bonding requests.
Besides faculty compensation, there is no finalized plan for which the $6.3 million will be used.
“The money will be reinvested in the academic priorities of the University,” Bruininks told the board.