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U.Va. Prepares for Sequestration

November 27, 2012

Dear members of the University community:

I write with a report on the University's plans to manage the impact of across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are currently scheduled to occur at the beginning of 2013.

Congress and the President do not yet have a clear plan for averting the cuts. If budget sequestration occurs, discretionary spending would be cut 9.4% for national defense and 8.2% for non-defense spending.

These cuts would affect our research funding and our financial aid programs in significant ways. One analysis (http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy2013/SeqBrief.pdf) indicates that there would be cuts of $2.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $456 million for the National Science Foundation, with similar cuts at other agencies that support U.Va. research.

Although Pell grants are exempt from sequestration in the first year, other forms of federal financial aid could be affected. There would also be substantial effects on the University Health System.

U.Va. leaders began planning last summer for how we would handle sequestration if it occurs. We are aware that there are special considerations with suspending ongoing research, not to mention issues related to continuity in employment for our faculty and staff and in enrollment for our students. If sequestration occurs, our first priority will be assuring continuity in financial aid, salaries, and research for as long as possible.

Vice President for Research Tom Skalak will be in touch with the University's Principal Investigators who receive federal support to discuss their specific concerns.

We are participating in efforts to make Congress aware of the potential impact of the cuts. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and I have co-authored a letter to the Virginia Congressional delegation to discuss the impact on Virginia's research universities, and Governor McDonnell has expressed his concern for the potential effects on the entire Commonwealth.

Three organizations of which U.Va. is a member - the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Science Coalition - have created a website (www.scienceworksforus.org) to describe how sequestration would affect research universities across the nation.

We hope that Congress and the President will be successful in their efforts to avoid sequestration. In the meantime, we are keeping a careful eye on the situation and preparing to mitigate the effects of spending cuts that could impact the University.

Very truly yours,

Teresa A. Sullivan