E-mail message to the
March 12, 2003
Budget planning process update
Our budget planning processes continue along lines outlined in earlier messages
to you. Specifically,
The "5%" budget reduction exercises are nearing completion,
The new strategic budgeting process will be reviewed by the Senate this week,
and I am hopeful that we will be able to immediately put it in place,
As described in that new process, we will be having budget hearings in two
weeks to hear and to weigh the recommendations emerging from the "5% exercises,"
And, we have received budget and position reduction targets that are based
upon the budget plan put together by the Governor.
The budget targets are, in round numbers, a reduction of $500,000 in the first
year of the biennium and an additional $500,000 in the second year meaning we
leave the biennium with a cumulative $1,000,000 reduction in our base budget.
These reductions are on top of about $600,000 in unfunded items we have inherited
through a variety of unfunded mandates and that we knew, whatever the budget
picture, we would need to find ways to permanently budget. In addition and as
a separate requirement, we will have to show, by this time next year, a reduction
in 16.2 of GPR funded FTE. Again, these are the implications for UWGB of the
Governor's budget and are not certain; they probably are, though, "best
Reaching these budget requirements will be painful. However, I do believe we
now have in place the processes to develop our budget in ways that are open,
deliberative, and that draw upon the best thinking of all of us.
Please allow me the opportunity to address several other, related matters. I
have, in recent days, heard a variety of questions or concerns, and I will take
just a moment to address them.
Why across the board cuts? Several colleagues have asked me why we are going
to be making our reductions "across the board." The simplest answer
is that we are not going to do so. Indeed, in the budget planning principles
and guidelines shared by Provost Hammersmith earlier, "no across the board
cuts" was specifically listed as a basic criterion. I suspect the confusion
arises from the "5% exercise." Yes, most units were asked to go through
the same percentage reduction exercise (although some were asked to look at
both 5% and 10% reductions). If the current "Governor's numbers" play
out, the final reduction will be below 5%, and so the information generated
by the 5%/10% exercise will allow, as intended, variation in percentage reductions
we actually end up having to take. However the confusion arose, I am certain
that reductions will not be identical across the board. But, unlike the mythical
Lake Woebegone, not every cut can be, in this case, "below average."
I also know from our review of budgets last year that it will not be possible
to "hold harmless" (as we did last year for instruction) any specific
What about size and quality? Our budgets will be reduced and this will affect
our capacity to fully serve students. Continuing at current enrollment levels
means quality will suffer. Protecting quality should be our first priority.
So, are we going to be smaller? Here, we are following the path outlined in
earlier messages. Basically, our enrollments are set before our budgets are
known. Demand for a UWGB education is rapidly increasing, and we are filling
earlier and earlier. We knew we would face at least a short-term problem of
adjusting. We also knew we would, once the biennial budget is known (and, we
are still quite a ways from really knowing what the budget will be), have the
opportunity to analyze the situation and then adjust although an element of
"catch up" would be involved. We, as a campus, will have to figure
out what we want to do in terms of admissions for next spring and for the following
fall. I do not know what our decisions should be. First, we need to know what
the budget impacts finally end up being. Then, in my view, we have to decide
whether the budget situation is short-term or longer term. If shorter-term,
perhaps we can work through it. If longer-term, we cannot let quality slip.
But, even in that scenario, we will have to weigh what further budgetary impacts
are acceptable given that being smaller means yet further reduced budgets because
of the tuition revenue that will be foregone. Finally, I will add the thought
that enrollment adjustments, if that is the route we take, have to be planned
over a period of years because our main "control" is on admission
of first year students, and wild variations in the size of particular classes
creates all sorts of disruptive problems in matching class availability to student
needs. So, there is much to weigh here. My commitment is that we will work through
this together; indeed, I see these evaluations as being a critical part of the
initial responsibilities of the newly forming Strategic Budgeting Committee.
As a concluding note, I will add that I know, from having the privilege of being
able to talk to a number of you who are in the "front lines" serving
our mission, of your dedication to helping protect our capacity to serve that
mission. You see the issue as involving more than simply finding dollars. You
are thinking in creative and innovative ways in order to serve students and
their needs. I am not being Pollyannaish here or suggesting that we can do more
or even the same with less. We cannot. But, I admire and encourage your continuing
professional dedication to why we are here and why we are proud to be here.
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