Dear Faculty and Staff,
We will soon begin an academic year and remain optimistic as we welcome new students and colleagues to our campus community.
When we initially projected enrollment for the coming year, we expected that tougher academic requirements would negatively impact freshman enrollment. One forecast projected a 30 percent decrease in first-time freshmen. But, thanks to our Enrollment Management Division and many of you, we now expect a much smaller decrease in freshmen this fall and have already seen a 60 percent increase in summer enrollment.
While this freshman class may be smaller than those of recent years, these new students promise to be the most academically prepared on record. I know that each of us will do whatever we can to make them feel welcome and will help them succeed in their academic journey.
On another front, our budgetary challenges continue. Over the last five fiscal years, the university’s budget allocation from the state has been reduced by 42.5%. The university’s budget model has essentially changed from primarily state funding to a majority of self-generated revenue. Five years ago, the state supported 66% of our annual budget; today that number is down to 44%. As a result of another state cut and cost increases beyond our control, this fiscal year, which began July 1, we face an $18 million shortfall.
Guided by our principle of protecting the core academic mission of the university, we again will not implement furloughs or layoffs. To manage this significant reduction, we are utilizing both immediate and longer-term remedies. Approximately 120 unfilled positions from across campus will be frozen. The university will reduce the operating services, supplies and travel budgets. We are working with potential partners to remove the costs of several economic development outreach centers from the university’s operating budget.
In an effort to further thin our operational budget, we are continuing to implement a number of administrative efficiencies and are aggressively exploring outsourcing of services. Auxiliary enterprises are also being removed from the operating budget and have been tasked with generating more revenue.
As we see a continuing disinvestment of state dollars in higher education, we must become more self-reliant. I will communicate with you further as these efforts unfold.
In the meantime, I ask that you continue to do good work, support your colleagues and help our students succeed.
E. Joseph Savoie