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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shelton cuts budget by $10 million

    President Robert Shelton rallied university leaders to axe $10.3 million from the operating budget last week, avoiding a future monetary crunch in coming years.

    The spectrum of cuts fell across academic departments, new funding requests and a tenured staff position, precipitated by tough budget times felt throughout the nation’s public universities, Shelton said.

    “”The fact that we had to deal with this is not a crisis and it’s not startling,”” Shelton said. “”It’s just a way of life.””

    UA academic departments will lose $750,000 overall under the new plan, on top of an across-the-board 1 percent budget cut already in place from the previous administration.

    “”We hope to work with the colleges in a way and affect the cuts in ways that students will be pretty insulated from it,”” said Provost George Davis. “”The faculty will feel it, I’m afraid.””

    Individual colleges and departments know their own situations best and are in the best position to target cuts, Davis said.

    With the majority of any college’s funds invested in people, the effects could ripple from slashed travel expenses to fewer Xerox machines, Davis said.

    “”It’s a crazy business. You know what your expenses are, but you don’t know what your revenues are until the last minute,”” Davis said. “”That’s just the way it works.””

    Shelton began meeting with administration, academics and staff for a comprehensive review of former president Peter Likins’ budget, which used “”one-time”” funds to cover over $11 million worth of recurring costs, upon assuming his duties as president in July.

    “”I was just uncomfortable with that large number,”” said Shelton, who reduced costs to under $1 million. “”People worked so hard on this plan that I didn’t want to just come in and blow it out of the water – I wanted to respect the work that’s been done before.””

    The revised $1.3 billion budget, which nets nearly $400 million in state funds, was hammered out by month’s end and will nix nearly a third of new spending requests, Shelton said.

    Also on the chopping block is $1 million from indirect costs of performing research at the UA.

    Those research funds are often used to assist in recruiting new faculty and to help purchase new equipment that keeps existing researchers here, said Leslie Tolbert, vice president of research, graduate studies and economic development.

    “”We’re just in the process of figuring out what we’re going to do,”” Tolbert said. “”We’re going to have to do without some things, there’s just no question about it.””

    The money will be delivered if funds have already been promised, although in some cases, large sums might be spread out over two to three years, Tolbert said.

    Tolbert said she must figure out the most critical ways to spend remaining development funds, which keep the UA competitive for external funding and grants and provide students with top-notch lab facilities.

    “”It’s a tough time for a good cause to get us on solid financial footing for future years,”” said Tolbert, who suggested that more recruitment costs could be passed onto academic deans.

    The UA also netted $450,000 in savings by eliminating the senior vice president for campus life position, held since 1992 by Saundra Taylor, who retired in July.

    Melissa Vito, dean of students, who served as Taylor’s vice president for student life, is now associate vice president of campus life and will be responsible for high-level student representation, Shelton said.

    Taylor’s other responsibilities, which included multicultural affairs, health and wellness, human resources and UApresents, were split among her staff upon their assurances of being able to handle those duties themselves.

    “”Students aren’t going to see any change in the way they’re represented in the upper tiers of the university,”” Shelton said.

    Neither Taylor nor Vito were available to comment for this story as of press time.

    At least one segment of UA staff is content with this year’s budget, however.

    Facilities Management expects its best allocation in the last five years due to administrative foresight, said Al Tarcola, director of Facilities Management.

    “”I always have more needs than money, like everyone else at the university,”” Tarcola said. “”But people ought to know that they can expect some improved service from us this year.””

    With $50 million on tap, Facilities Management plans to hire 50 new employees, increasing its staff to 600 to cover the increased square footage of recent building projects at the UA, Tarcola said.

    “”We feel that we can do a good quantity and quality of jobs this year,”” Tarcola said. “”It’s a very good year, from our standpoint.””

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