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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Difficult budget cuts the right choice

    Usually, being a tightwad doesn’t do much to increase your popularity.

    However, UA President Robert Shelton’s recent decisions may change that.

    At the beginning of August, Shelton enacted budget cuts in the UA’s operating budget

    totaling $10.3 million. Sure, the cuts are difficult to swallow. No one wants to leave the position of vice president for campus life vacant, decrease funding for indirect research by a million dollars or deny a third of all new funding requests.

    However, rough as they are to face, these cuts represent a shift in the UA’s budgetary management. We’re moving as a university to being proactive rather than reactive with our financial future. The pinch may be difficult, but wise fiscal management now will have a profound positive impact on the UA’s financial situation down the road.

    Shelton was forced to make the budget cuts

    after realizing that, though the UA’s budget would have been feasible for this academic year, it would have resulted in a major shortfall in the future.

    It’s doubtful that it was easy for an incoming president to spend his first week on the job convincing staff to support major budget cuts requiring a campuswide tightening of the belt. He could have let the budget stand, hoping he could find alternative funding before the shortfall hit and required an immediate fix. This solution may have seemed more immediately palatable.

    But easy isn’t always best. Though the cuts were difficult, campus departments have cooperated with Shelton thus far, agreeing that getting the UA’s metaphorical feet on firm financial ground is a goal that will eventually benefit everyone at the university.

    The Arizona Board of Regents has stated that it expects Arizona’s universities to move toward an enterprise model and away from an agency model. That is, the regents want to see the universities run more according to the principles that govern businesses – including a willingness to seek funding from alternative sources, like gifts and revenue generated from research – rather than the agency model of relying only on the state for funding.

    Given this climate of decreasing fiscal support for the UA at the state level, managing the UA’s funds with foresight is of extreme importance. Additionally, this sort of display of thoughtful financial stewardship is likely to engender the trust of major donors. When major givers know that the UA keeps a tight rein on how money is spent, they will feel more comfortable sending their money here – so perhaps the budgets of future seasons won’t necessarily be so tight.

    So, thanks for making the hard choice, Dr. Shelton. We have big hopes for you and your
    pennypinching ways.

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