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President Nellis shares state budget update, Jan. 26, 2021

Published: January 26, 2021 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with Ohio University employees: 

Dear University faculty and staff,

As we move into the spring semester, my leadership team and I are focused first on the health of our faculty, staff and students as we continue to increase density on campuses and second on the continued financial health of the institution under the pressures of the pandemic and the shifts we have seen in enrollment. As we begin to make plans to address our most recent budget assumptions, we are committed to communicating regularly with you and providing opportunities for you to share input and ideas on how we can best meet the challenges we face. 

Today, I wanted to share a bit of good news. On Friday, Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner notified university presidents that Gov. DeWine signed an executive order restoring a portion of appropriations to higher education for the current fiscal year that had been withheld as the state monitored its revenue realities. As a result, Ohio University will receive approximately $7.8 million in state share of instruction appropriations that had previously been withheld. This is excellent news for our University and for all public universities in the state of Ohio, and I thank Gov. DeWine for recognizing the role higher education continues to play in fueling our state’s economy and transforming the lives of our students. 

Our budget office is in the process of revising budget assumptions based on this change, and it will without question reduce our dependency on reserves for the current fiscal year. This change is a one-time adjustment to our state allocation so we will continue our aggressive efforts to find ways to fill the gap between our revenues and expenses with our current planning efforts. As we presented to our Board of Trustees at their meeting earlier this month, after utilizing CARES Act funding to cover a significant portion of our expenses related to COVID-19 safety measures, we were anticipating the use of $40 million in reserves during this fiscal year. This adjustment from the state will reduce this amount of reserve use. Fortunately, we have capacity in our reserves to bridge our expense gap as we continue our multi-year budget strategy to amend our structural deficit. And it also ensures we can maintain our commitment to access and inclusion, student transformation, and research and creative activity that serves our community locally and globally. 

In the coming days and weeks, my leadership team and I will work to engage each and every one of you in the generation of innovative ideas that ensure we meet our mission while continuing to respond to evolving revenues. As we plan opportunities for engagement and as new information is available, we will continue to update our State of the Budget website. We invite you to visit that site regularly and to engage with us in this important process in the weeks to come. 

As always, I am confident that with your help and input, we can meet these challenges and discover opportunities even in the midst of all the obstacles of the moment.

Sincerely and with hope,
M. Duane Nellis