The campus is starting to feel the pinch of the state budget impasse.
The university, along with other state-funded agencies, has yet to receive this year’s annual appropriation and has used its own resources to fund operations for the first four months of the fiscal year.
According to Interim Chancellor Barb Wilson, the delay in funding is unprecedented. “We’re in a really weird place,” she told members of the Senate Executive Committee on Nov. 9. “We’re trying to model anticipated cuts we don’t have yet. It puts us at a serious disadvantage.”
Campus leaders are convinced that once a state budget agreement is reached, higher education will see some level of funding cuts. The exact level of budget cuts has been difficult to pin down, with legislative proposals so far ranging from around 8 percent to more than 30 percent.
Wilson said campus leaders have been asked to pre-emptively make fiscal year budget adjustments of 4 to 5 percent.
“Administrative units are being asked to cut more than that,” she said.
The university system also has been looking for ways to cut administration and protect academic programs, with President Tim Killeen announcing $24 million in savings from cuts to information technology administration and by deferring some maintenance projects.
Leaders also are discussing ways to protect students who count on state funding through the Monetary Award Program. They, too, risk not receiving promised state money if a budget solution isn’t found soon.
Wilson said 5,800 students could lose $13 million in assistance if MAP isn’t replenished by next semester.
“We’re trying to assure students and telling them to enroll anyway,” she said. “Right now, we just don’t have state money for that.”
She said the Campus Budget Advisory Task Force, comprising campus constituencies, is considering strategies to streamline campus spending and improve budget processes.
Wilson said one topic of discussion is the university’s Responsibility Centered Management model, adopted in 1999.
Under a modified form of RCM, university revenue is assigned to the academic units generating tuition and research funding. Overhead costs, such as campus administration, computing services and facilities costs, are paid for through use-based assessments on the revenue generated by academic units.
She said the conversation of RCM has been, “Does it help us or hurt us?”
The committee also is studying subsidy funding, money that is given to affiliates who share the university’s mission. She said funding for local public television is one example of the many university-supported entities.
Committee members are asking, “Who subsidizes what and where is the money coming from?” she said.
Wilson said the committee also has focused on campus administrative costs, which she said had grown over time.
“We need to look carefully … and determine whether we are spending money in the right places,” she said.