Former President Daniel Mark Fogel
From: Daniel Mark Fogel, President
To: Campus Community
Date: February 17, 2009
Re: Budget Reconciliation, Academic Quality, and Change: The Situation Now
We are working hard with deans, vice presidents, and other campus leaders to do what we must do: bring spending and revenues into balance while preserving academic quality. We are paying close attention to the voices of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We are also monitoring economic conditions and decision processes in Montpelier and Washington, along with key institutional performance indicators. Members of our community may differ in their thinking about how to achieve our aims, but as I listen to the voices of our community I am sure of one thing: we are united in our determination to preserve the quality of the student experience, to maintain an environment that supports success in research, scholarship, creative activity, and service, and to manage necessary change with humane consideration and compassion for each other. I am very confident that we will succeed.
Let me report on where we are. First, in phase one of budget reconciliation (to be completed this week), the general fund budget will be reduced by nearly $11 million and lay-offs will occur in areas where current operations cannot be sustained regardless of conceivable changes in projected revenues. In phase two (to be completed in early April), we may have to make the rest of the recommended cuts (to a total of $15 million) and implement more lay-offs—depending on the outcome of state appropriation discussions and other revenue projections (of net tuition revenue, indirect cost recovery, and investment income, among other sources of income). In order to relieve the painful uncertainty affecting all members of the community, by Friday (2/20/09) we will inform—and offer counseling and support services to—all staff affected in phase one and all who may be affected in phase two. Second, we will continue to listen with care to deans and faculty to get the fullest understanding possible of likely effects of cuts on academic quality and the viability of programs, and we will work to mitigate undesirable effects of budgetary actions.
We are still refining next year’s class size data. The picture will clarify again after April preregistration. The number of small sections reported earlier dropped this week when cross-listed sections were merged. The number of large sections remains the same, with a significant but single-digit increase in seats in these sections as a percentage of all class seats. By deciding to build these larger sections, departments and colleges have been able to hold most class sizes constant so that the great majority of sections will keep the intimate scale that will still be a hallmark of UVM. Otherwise, the move from a student-faculty ratio of 15.2-to-1 to about 16-to-1 would have produced a 5% increase in class size across the board. We simply cannot pay UVM’s bills at a ratio lower than what has long been posited in our strategic plan.
Faculty, students, staff, and administration have all benefited from UVM’s invest-and-grow strategy, and working together I believe we can preserve and enhance academic quality as we chart a necessary new course: focus-and-invest. In following that new course, we will cut administrative spending far more than spending in academic areas: once budget decisions have been made final in phase two we will share with you more detailed information, including cuts in administrative budgets, reductions in administrative positions, and constraints on administrative salary growth.
Finally, let me assure you that the discussion we have initiated about academic organization is driven by our real need to improve student and faculty success. We will take ample time to explore any options that emerge from that discussion, and any recommendations will be taken through customary governance processes, notably the Faculty Senate. We must have the courage to examine what we do with fresh eyes. We have every reason to have confidence in our strength, which we derive from each other as a community. Together, we will create a successful future for this extraordinary institution. Thank you very much for your patience, commitment, and hard work during these uncertain times.
Last modified February 18 2009 08:19 AM