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Budget Forum Addresses Challenges

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President Mark Huddleston. Mike Ross, UNH Photographic Services

This time is different. That was the message delivered by President Mark Huddleston during the Oct. 13 budget forum, held to help convey information about impending cuts necessary as a result of a deflated budget.

“This challenge is not one of our making,” Huddleston told the Granite State Room crowd. He was referring to the $32.5 million gouged from the UNH budget by N.H. legislators. While the university has faced hard financial times in the past, this latest test requires dire action, he said.

“We are going to have to make hard choices. We are going to have to stop doing some of the things we are doing now,” Huddleston said, adding, “Some programs won’t be here. Some people won’t be here.”

Whatever choices are made, the goal of protecting the core, particularly students, remains at the forefront as does making transparent, consultative decisions that Huddleston noted will have to be made fast. A blueprint budget showing reductions equaling $2.2 million this year and $6 million for FY 13 will go before the USNH board of trustees on Nov. 15. Vice presidents will have another year to find $8 million to take from the FY 14 budget.

In Huddleston’s Sept. 28 budget update letter, the deficit projections were placed at $13 million for FY13 and $21 million for FY 14 but according to David Proulx, associate vice president of finance, those figures had included a 2 percent salary increase effective Jan.1, 2012, which is no longer being consider in light of budget circumstances.

Dick Cannon, vice president of finance, said there needs to be a “new paradigm” regarding the way UNH employees are compensated, and that salary increases during these financially-strapped times would only “make the rest of the work more difficult.”

He noted UNH’s move to self-insuring its health care plan beginning in January 2012, and the possibility of having primary care services on campus could help to contain costs. He also said the position of vice president of finance and administration now held by Proulx and that of associate vice president for campus operations, held by Anthony Zizos, will not be filled when they become vacant. Proulx is leaving UNH next month. Zizos will retire in June 2012.

Provost John Aber said programs will be given a closer look to see what degrees might be combined or eliminated. There will also be a push to grow the online offerings and the January term. When asked if resigning or retiring faculty will be replaced, Aber said not on a one for one basis.

“We won’t be able to do that,” Aber said.