On Nov. 21, President Rodney Bennett sent an email to the student body discussing the budget cuts being made for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal year.
According to the email, Bennett continues to share these updates in the “spirit of transparency” that carries on from his early budget cut updates earlier this fall.
“The most common reduction strategies include leaving vacant positions unfilled, eliminating professional development opportunities for the remainder of the year and reducing operating expenses, among others,” Bennett said in his email.
Bennett went on to explain that the proposals for fiscal year 2015, with the necessary reduction of $6.7 million, have been approved and will be put into place.
These cuts were made by neglecting to fill vacant positions, reducing operating expenses and cutting “professional development opportunities” such as conferences and other unnecessary travel.
Dean of the College of Health Michael Forster detailed a few of the cuts made by his faculty and staff.
“For the current fiscal year (FY ’15), the College of Health was able to meet its reduction target ($435,000) through releasing funds in vacant faculty lines,” he said. “These were spread across the departments and schools, but several were in the Department of Public Health, which had an usually high number of vacancies this year due to unanticipated retirements.”
Steven Moser, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said that the goal from the beginning of the process was to reduce impact on the students as much as possible.
“The size of the budget adjustments are such that a reduction in personnel is unavoidable,” he said. “Some resources have been reduced to cause short-term impact on programs in the college.”
One large announcement that Bennett made was the removal of tenured professors and tenure-track professors in good standing from the budget reduction process. This will continue on in the 2016 fiscal year and in future budget cuts.
After explaining how the cuts were made, Bennett urged the faculty to concentrate on recruiting and retention, which he explained would be the quickest way to determine the financial stability of the university in the future. He stated that the administration would not truly know the financial future of the university until the numbers for fall of 2015 come to light.
“We may find ourselves in a better financial situation than we thought, “ he said. “Or, we might be in a place where we are forced to revisit expense reduction strategies.”
Bennett urged the professors to focus on retention by bringing their full commitment to each interaction with students and said that retention and recruitment are the key to long-term success.
He finished the email on a strong, positive note, thanking the professors for their work. He said, “I am confident that if we work together, we can build a better future for our students and our university community.”