U of I budget reduced by nearly $12 million, 62 positions cut - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

U of I budget reduced by nearly $12 million, 62 positions cut

MOSCOW, Idaho. - The University of Idaho has finalized its 2010 budget plan, which now will go the State Board of Education for approval. Thanks to dedicated strategic work and good stewardship of precious fiscal resources by the university community over the past year, the university's proposed budget will have minimal impact on employees and their families.

"The deliberate and careful management of fiscal resources by unit leaders across all areas of the university over the past eight months has enabled us to meet the state-mandated requirement without furloughs or salary reductions at this time," noted President Steven Daley-Laursen in a memo to faculty and staff Thursday.

The plan enables the university to manage reductions of 7 percent of the general education budget, plus 5 percent of its general education personnel costs, resulting in a total reduction of $11.7 million to its general education appropriation. It also addresses the inflationary increases the university is experiencing in utility costs, operations and promotions.

The net reductions are managed through a combination of permanent cuts and short-term bridge funding tactics. However, the budget plan also provides strategies to continue to strengthen the university, including building a central budget reserve to maintain favorable financial ratings and position the university for unanticipated challenges.

The university met the state-mandated 7 percent holdback through a $7.5 million reduction in the general education budget. This includes the elimination of 41 vacant position lines as well as the nonrenewal of 21 personnel, both funded by general education budgets. In addition, there were significant reductions in spending on travel and a freeze on hiring of new employees.

Included in its fiscal plan is the use of $2.2 million of unspent funds from the $6.2 million strategic reallocations made last summer; use of non-appropriated funds to increase institutional reserves by approximately 1 percent of the total university budget; and use of approximately $2 million in interest income from centrally managed accounts.

The fiscal plan is aided by $4.8 million in short-term federal stimulus funding in FY2010 and an anticipated $4.8 million in FY2011, as well as increased revenue from the 6.5 percent increase in student fees.

The university also is managing state-mandated reductions in its special programs: Agricultural Research and Extension Service, Forest Utilization Research, Idaho Geological Survey, WWAMI Medical Education and Washington-Idaho Veterinary Education. These special program reductions will be managed through a variety of permanent program, personnel and operations budget actions. Bridge funding also will be used for these programs in the coming year as permanent reductions are put in place.

Daley-Laursen cautioned that this next year will bring even more difficult decisions about the university's focus and scope. "The measures taken to meet the mandated cuts in the coming fiscal year provide a temporary bridge to a new fiscal model, one which will be built by continuing the vigorous, deliberate work of reducing our scope, retaining and enhancing quality and growing our capacity in areas of strength and potential increased revenue. In our new economic reality, and amid new demands and expectations in higher education, this change is now imperative," he said.

 Many of the university's peer institutions are struggling as they respond to appropriation information from their state agencies. However, the University of Idaho's strategic planning and prioritization efforts have positioned the institution well to be able to make choices that keep its employees and their families in the forefront of its priorities during these difficult economic times.

This year, some 35 degree programs were closed, consolidated or transformed during the university's academic program prioritization process. During the coming weeks, the university's executive and academic leadership will continue the process of strategic planning for the university based on permanently reduced state appropriations. This will involve the next level of program prioritization choices, as well as deeper programmatic innovations. More information about the university's transformation, including its process re-engineering and a request for innovations, is available at www.uidaho.edu/provost.

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