New task forces to address budget situation

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

These are unprecedented times for our economy, for higher education and the University of Northern Iowa. In November and December, UNI experienced budget reversions that totaled 2.5 percent. Now, with the governor's announcement that his fiscal 2010 budget includes a 6.5 percent cut for most state agencies, including UNI, we are working to address a total reduction of 9 percent. This figure may change. Legislators have indicated it could be higher. The Revenue Estimating Conference in March will give us a better indication.

Today, I am introducing two new task forces. One will focus on new cost-containment strategies, and the other will concentrate on revenue-enhancement strategies. The task forces will be structured in such a way as to broaden and maximize input from the campus community. I will chair both of these task forces. I encourage you to communicate ideas to these task forces regarding cost containment and revenue enhancement for the university. Please send your ideas to president@uni.edu.

These task forces will be critical to our long-term sustainability. Short-term budget reduction solutions must be acted on immediately, as follows:

  • A hiring freeze is in effect. A review by the divisional vice president must be conducted for all vacancies prior to action, with exceptions reported to the president.
  • Non-essential out-of-state travel is restricted. A review by the divisional vice president must be conducted for all travel prior to action.
  • Temperature will be controlled to 68-70 degrees in the winter and 74-76 degrees in the summer unless health, safety, research needs, or equipment maintenance and usage require otherwise.
  • Lighting will be evaluated and reduced where possible without sacrificing safety.

From now until we learn the full extent of state-mandated cuts, it is critical that we all work together on strategic solutions. The larger the cut, the more collaborative support we will need from our campus, the governor and the Legislature to make critical decisions regarding staffing levels, program offerings and our institutional priorities.

The priorities we have established for this university remain important for our students and the state, even though the progress we had envisioned for the university will happen within a different time frame.

Our student-focused approach has served this university well. We cannot abandon our guiding principles just because we are in tough times. By working collaboratively and with a common purpose, we have an opportunity to ensure that UNI emerges from these economic challenges a strong university, with its values intact.