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From the President: Budget Forum Oct. 13

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Colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the status of the University budget and to let you know that we plan a campus forum in order to address your questions about ongoing budget planning. The forum will be Thursday, Oct. 13 at 12:45 p.m. in the Granite State Room; joining me will be Provost John Aber, Vice President for Finance and Administration Dick Cannon, Associate Vice President for Finance David Proulx, and other members of the president’s cabinet.

As I said in my State of the University remarks on Sept. 15, your sacrifices made it possible to sustain last spring’s historic $33 million cut in our appropriation from the New Hampshire Legislature without making draconian cuts in the instruction and services upon which our students depend. Our salary and hiring freezes and the reduction in benefits bought us time in which to make more thoughtful decisions about ways to reorganize with the needs of the entire campus community in mind. Meanwhile, the Central Budget Committee made a series of recommendations intended to frame our approach to closing our deficit over the longer term. Over the summer, Provost John Aber reported on ongoing conversations related to two of these recommendations: the possible restructuring of the science and engineering units on campus, and a review of graduate programs.

Last week, the president’s cabinet met in extended session to review budget projections for this fiscal year and the two years following, as well as to advance the further recommendations of the CBC concerning ways we might pursue longer-term budget cuts and revenue enhancements. The budget news was sobering. Even after the savings made possible by our short-term measures, we anticipate a deficit of approximately $2.2 million in the current fiscal year and a growing structural deficit of $13 million and $21 million in the two years following. (These numbers could be exacerbated further if we do not realize our targets for the separation incentive program, for which the remaining application deadlines fall at the start of November and January. They also assume level state funding, which is uncertain.) We tested a number of ideas for revenue enhancement and budget savings—many of them submitted by faculty and staff in response to my invitation last spring —and are now working to develop them further.

Among the revenue enhancements we intend to pursue will be increasing enrollment modestly among undergraduate students—particularly students interested in majors that show capacity for growth—as well as taking steps to increase our competitiveness beyond our traditional regional base. We will further develop academic programming that utilizes an extended calendar, as well as e-learning technologies, so as to better engage the talents of our extraordinary faculty, as well as our campus facilities and the available technologies. We will continue our efforts toward launching a major fundraising campaign, bringing more international students to campus and developing more professional master’s degree and certificate programs. We will at least double the size of January term and aggressively expand summer programs.

We also will act on a third recommendation contained in the May report of the CBC, which concerned the need for a systematic review of University functions and programs, utilizing data and metrics that would enable us to seek efficiencies by comparing our operations to those elsewhere. The cabinet has made some recommendations about metrics that should be useful across their respective areas of responsibility. These will be developed by a working group including the directors of our Business Service Centers, Institutional Research, Finance, Information Technology and other groups with relevant expertise. As they are refined, these metrics and the pertinent comparative data will be made available to the cabinet and the provost’s council for use in framing specific reviews of functions and operations. The data collected for the academic reviews also will inform the larger NEASC accreditation process being initiated for 2013.

These reviews will need to address all administrative, academic and student services across the University at all levels.

My colleagues and I appreciate how challenging it can be to follow these complex issues through phased consultations that involve both the University System of New Hampshire and UNH itself. We will make every effort to keep you apprised of our progress. Please bring your questions to the Oct. 13 forum. Also, for those of you who cannot attend in person, the forum will be streamed online at http://www.unh.edu/liveevents.

Thanks once again for your continuing efforts on behalf of our students and toward the strategic initiatives that will help us make this institution economically sustainable. Together, we will emerge from this period of real adversity a stronger and better UNH.

Sincerely,

Mark W. Huddleston
President