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I thank Stephen Bentivenga and Courtney Bauder for working with me to schedule the recent open sessions for faculty and academic staff.  In these sessions I gave an overview of the university’s three-phase reduction plan to offset the $9.5 million budget deficit.  These phases are not consecutive, but will all occur at the same time over the next couple of years.

Here is a brief summary:

  • Phase one is to reduce central spending by $2.5 million.  (Recently, Chancellor Leavitt presented a draft plan that reduces central spending by about $3.2 million over 3 years.)
  • Phase two is to reduce our base GPR budget by $6 million.
  • Phase three is to increase revenue by $1 million.  Presentations indicating several possibilities have been given at governance meetings, and ideas are being vetted to better understand which should and can be implemented.

The plan was for all phases to be completed in 2 years.  In particular, to reach the $6 million GPR reduction in phase two, 60% (of the $6 million) would be reduced in FY19 and the remaining 40% in FY20.

The original plan would require Academic Affairs to reduce about $4.1 million (a little over 10% of our current budget) over the two years with $2.46 reduction in place by fall 18 (FY 19).  This raised concerns across campus as deans discussed possible actions to meet this.

I heard the concerns of deans, faculty and academic staff and, thus, presented an argument for a 3-year (30/50/20 percent) plan to Chancellor and VC Fletcher.   If Chancellor gives the final approval, Academic Affairs will need to make about a $1.23 million reduction in FY19 (about 3% of its total budget).  More information will be presented on this in the coming week.

The three-year plan will give us time to work together to finds ways to make strategic decisions to meet the reduction.  It will also give us some time to allow plans for revenue generation to become fruitful.

As I said in the forum, we need to respond to enrollments and tie our staffing to enrollments.  We will need to analyze how we use faculty/staff time and look at our program array. We will need 2-3 years to “right size” the institution.  This means getting to the appropriate number of employees needed for the number of students we serve. If we do get additional growth in enrollment, then there would be extra revenue to spend on our “research-enhanced” mission.

My commitment is to preserve the academic mission and to maintain high quality programs.  I envision a future institution where divisions/departments will have more independence to run their unit(s) based on what they know about their revenue.  Once we better understand where revenue comes from, I expect that staffing and workload decisions to happen increasingly at the department & unit level, so that units are in control regarding their instructional budgets and how many releases they can afford.

Future open sessions are being scheduled as we work together in an open and collegial way.


Interim Provost John Koker


*Originally shared in an all-faculty email from Interim Provost John Koker on March 2, 2018