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January 7, 2009 — Welcome Back

Elizabeth Rose-... -- Wed, 01/07/2009 - 9:01am

Dear Faculty & Staff,

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus for the Spring 2009 semester.

On December 15th, the university received word from our System office that because of declining state revenues, higher education would receive a substantial reduction in our current year’s budget. This news was not a total surprise considering the faltering national economy and the significant decline in the price of oil which is a major source of state revenue.

The original projection of our share of the budget cut was $7,347,758. On December 30th, the Governor lowered the cut to higher education from $109 million to $55,182,262 and our share of this reduction is slightly over $4,320,845 or 4.62% of our state general funds appropriation.

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will meet this Friday, January 9, to review and likely approve the Governor’s Budget Deficit Reduction Plan. Included in the plan will be the proposal that we submitted for managing our cut to the System office late Tuesday evening. I want to share with you this plan prior to public dissemination.

Over the last several days, the Provost, the University Council, Deans and several others have been working with me to adjust the current year’s budget to deal with this immediate financial challenge. Our fundamental task was to reduce the budget while protecting our core mission responsibility of providing high-quality academic programs to our students, protecting our most important asset in fulfilling this mission–our faculty and staff and adhering to the guiding principles driving the development of the University’s Strategic Plan.

To fulfill this charge the largest reduction in budgeted expenditures will be in Deferred Maintenance/Major Repairs. As you know, our grounds and several buildings are in serious disrepair and we began the year with an aggressive plan to repair, stabilize and modernize these facilities. This reduction will slow but not eliminate this important remedial repair work.

We are reducing funding to various extension activities focused on economic development and research. Among the Centers affected are: the Louisiana Immersive Technology Enterprise, the Picard Center for Child Development and CajunBot. University funds to these Centers will be reduced by 4.62% of their total state general funds appropriation.

  • University support for athletics is being reduced by 4.62%.
  • The University’s Information Technology Institute is being reduced by $150,000.
  • Travel is being reduced by $200,000.
  • Supplies are being reduced by $100,000.

Collectively, these actions will reduce the University’s current year expenditures by the targeted $4,320,845 or 4.62%.

Unfortunately, our financial challenges do not end with these actions. The State’s Revenue Estimating Committee is projecting a major shortfall in the state revenues for the 2009-10 fiscal year which begins July 1. Higher education is facing challenging times, not only in Louisiana but across the nation. Turning these challenges into opportunities is our current task.

Despite these obstacles I remain confident in our ability as an institution to continue to make progress and bring about positive change. If we embrace a shared vision for our university’s future and put forth the effort necessary to achieve that vision, we will be successful.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects the wind to change; and the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward

I invite you to a university-wide convocation of faculty and staff on Thursday,

January 15, at 3:30 p.m., at Angelle Hall Auditorium. We will discuss our current status, where we want to go and strategies for getting there.

I look forward to seeing you.

Dr. E. Joseph Savoie
University of Louisiana at Lafayette