U officials announce budget reductions

by Paul Sand

To address a $25 million institution-wide budget reduction, University deans said they will continue to protect students’ interests but will leave some faculty and staff positions unfilled.

Deans also said they plan to use some internal department funds to solve the second budget reduction in the last year.

University colleges and administrative units submitted proposals outlining plans for reducing budgets to the provost’s office Monday.

Deans said that while the current cut was difficult, they expect possible 2004-05 cuts to be much worse. Future University cuts could be influenced by Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2004-05 biennium budget, scheduled to be released today.

“We’re in pretty good shape for this (cut), but we don’t know what will occur in the future,” General College Dean David Taylor said.

He said the General College will redirect tuition dollars and cut back on nonessential travel and purchases to meet its portion of the current cut.

Using one-time funds, or nonrecurring reserves, to fund the college’s reductions is an attempt to not impact students and staff mid-year, said College of Human Ecology Dean Shirley Baugher. Her college’s portion of the cut is nearly $250,000.

“I have said to my department heads it’s not good management to deplete your reserves,” Baugher said, “but it’s also not good management to interrupt the productivity of the faculty and the department.”

Baugher said the human ecology proposal depletes the school’s central reserves, except for tuition and equipment reserves.

College of Biological Sciences Dean Robert Elde said it will leave faculty-level teaching positions unfilled to handle its current cut. The college will also combine some administrative positions in the student services office and dean’s office, he said.

“So far we’re stalling, not cutting,” he said. “But how long we can stall will depend on how the budget looks from the governor and then how the University ends up dealing with it.”

Biological sciences will hire part-time student employees to fill some open administrative positions, Elde said.

Severe cuts to the University’s 2004-05 biennium budget will be larger for the college – possibly an increase of four to six times as much as its current $500,000 cut, Elde said.

To address the Institute of Technology’s $2.3 million reduction, at least six faculty-level teaching positions will not be filled, Dean H. Ted Davis said. In addition, the college reduced or eliminated several departmental supply budgets, he said.

Davis added that the college eliminated open administrative and support-staff positions.

High-level administrative units were also included in the $25 million reduction. The Board of Regents was asked to cut $19,000, while the University General Counsel’s office is to cut $97,000. The President’s Office is to cut $75,000.

University Chief of Staff Kathryn Brown said two positions in the President’s Office which primarily deal with athletics will be moved into the Athletics Department. Also, the Faculty Senate office, a unit of the President’s Office, will experience a small reduction in funds.

Fifteen of the University’s colleges contribute $11.2 million of the $25 million cut. The rest comes from administrative units, including University Services and Human Resources. The University’s other campuses contribute nearly $3 million.

Last month, University colleges and administrative units received letters informing them of their shares of the $25 million reduction. The letters urged department administrators to consider the University’s mission and commitment to students when planning their cuts.

The reductions are based on each college or unit’s percentage of the University’s budget.

Provost Christine Maziar said at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting that those proposals using a majority of one-time funds, or nonrecurring reserves, for their portion will be sent back to the college or unit for further consideration.

Maziar said she will take until later this week to sort through each college and unit’s reduction proposal.

Paul Sand covers University Board of Regents and administration. He welcomes comments at [email protected]