slow new spending
Many states budget problems
are result of economic downturn
By Anne Bromley
the handwriting on the wall, several deans have moved to slow
this years spending in anticipation of possible mid-year
state budget cuts.
L. Ayers, dean of the College
of Arts & Sciences, sent a memo to department chairs on
Nov. 8 suspending faculty recruitment and hiring. We must
not make any new, long-term financial commitments, he said,
until the uncertainty about the budget can be resolved.
Breneman, dean of the Curry
School and a national expert on the funding of higher education,
declared a moratorium on faculty hiring Nov. 1. I told the
faculty, until we get some clarity on the situation, its
the responsible thing to do.
Van Lengen, dean of the Architecture
School, also has asked department chairs to suspend faculty
searches until she reviews all expenses to understand where cuts
could be made, if necessary, with the least impact on the school.
neither the state nor the University has mandated belt tightening,
the deans say they are reacting to a weakened economy and the
financial aftermath of the events of Sept. 11.
is not the only state with budget problems. Public colleges throughout
the nation are facing reductions in state support and mid-year
budget cuts. A study released last week by the National Conference
of State Legislatures and reported on in the Nov. 2. issue of
The Chronicle of Higher Education, called this year the
toughest budget year in a decade and predicted a bleak
outlook for higher education.
October, the governors of nine states including Connecticut,
Georgia, Idaho, and Nebraska advised their public colleges
and universities to prepare for state appropriation rollbacks
ranging from 1 percent to 7 percent.
states are seeing revenues drop below projections, according to
the survey, and at least 28 states reported having cut this years
budgets. Some are experiencing both higher spending and lower
revenues than planned, including Virginia, North Carolina and
have not taken any University-wide action, said Leonard
W. Sandridge, U.Va. executive
vice president and chief operating officer. However,
the current revenue outlook at the state level causes us to believe
that we should use careful judgment in the commitment of discretionary
has been keeping a close eye on the news coverage, some of which
began in early January. I heard my colleagues around the
country talking about wrestling with the same [budget] issues,
he said. By last month I could see it was inevitable and
tried to prepare the faculty with articles from the Chronicle
of Higher Education and the Washington Post.
addition to a hiring freeze in the College, Ayers is asking department
chairs to reduce their present budgets by 5 percent. Authorization
for replacing faculty in 2002-03 also has been suspended, as has
travel for recruitment purposes. Other academic travel has not
been affected at this point.
for exemptions to the freeze due today will be considered
if the position is entirely or mostly privately funded, or if
it is essential to meet instructional needs and can be filled
while at the same time cutting the departments state-funded
salary budget. Request to fill classified staff positions also
must be submitted to the deans office.
percent of the total budget for Arts & Sciences comes from
the state. The largest portion of the Colleges state funding
85 percent is compensation for faculty and classified
employees, while another 10 percent funds graduate teaching assistants
and student workers.
Sherman, the Architecture Schools associate dean for academics,
said the chairs have been told to plan as if there has been a
15 percent reduction to their operating budgets. Were
going to study the budget to determine how best to protect everything
thats essential to running the school, Sherman said.
and Breneman believe that they have the support of their staff
and faculty on these cost-saving initiatives, as well that of
John T. Casteen III laid the groundwork for such actions when
he alerted the Faculty Senate at its October meeting that he had
already advised his Cabinet to develop contingency plans in case
the state mandates cuts.
Casteens message, Gene D. Block, vice president and provost,
told the deans it would be prudent to look at their budgets now
to see where they could hold back or reduce expenditures.
not imposing mandatory cuts. Deans are empowered to make their
own decisions on their budgets, Block said, especially considering
that some rely on state funding more than others. Because
it isnt clear when the state might notify agencies, it would
be easier to absorb cuts now. This would help preserve some flexibility
and avoid later, more drastic reductions.
provost and deans stressed that the steps they are taking are
intended to accomplish two primary goals: protect current staff
and faculty, while minimizing the instructional impact on students
in the classroom.