In a memo to the university community that was distributed via e-mail on Friday, Nov. 13, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit addressed concerns of potential budget cuts in academic units.
Addressing speculation that academic units will be required to reduce operating budgets by 10 percent, Benoit states that assumption is false. She explains that the Budget Planning Council (BPC), constituent senates, college deans and the executive staff are currently developing a process to effectively deal with expected budget shortfalls over the next several years.
"We set out to create a process whereby reductions could be distributed strategically in light of the contributions that units make in fulfilling the fundamental academic mission of the university," she writes. "In the process as it now stands, each academic and non-academic unit would be asked to identify a five and a 10 percent base-budget reduction scenario. There was never any presumption that academic support units would be exempt or that all units would be required to implement a 10 percent base-budget reduction. The process envisioned a prioritization of unit contributions with the assignment of a corresponding reduction from zero to 10 percent."
While Benoit stresses that she is committed to transparency and open communication with the university community, she also points out that information about the extent and nature of the budget-reducing process has not been distributed because it is not yet developed. Weekly meetings of the BPC are under way and Benoit is actively working with deans and executive staff to gain input from each department, she said.
The provost encourages members of the university community to share ideas and suggestions with her, and reinforces her impression of how dedicated and committed the faculty and staff are in providing exceptional academics for students.
"I am also committed to fostering a sense of the university as an indivisible whole," she said. "We are on the verge of an important university-wide conversation and to the greatest extent possible we should avoid throwing up barricades at the outset. As we face the difficult challenges that confront us, we should be as willing to examine objectively our own centrality, as we are eager to comment on the centrality of others."
In closing, the provost states the budget deficit will present challenges for the entire university, but with dedication and a willingness to work together, the best decisions possible will be made.
"Hard choices lie ahead, but I hope that we can make them with the generosity of spirit that has made this institution the remarkable place that it is," she said.