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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The university compact process, FY 2018

As the calendar turns to spring, the university turns to budget and planning season. At the campus level, the college is engaged in the annual Compact process. If you are new to the college, or would like a refresher, you can review my previous explanations of this process here (some of the details of the process have changed since that explanation was written, but the gist of the process is the same) and here (for the outcomes of the process last year). Those of you who would like an overall look at CLA finances should check out the primer written by Brent Gustafson, CLA’s Chief Financial Officer.

For this year’s process, CLA needs to identify a total of $1.6 million of expenditures we put on the
table for reallocation. Some of the funds may come back to us in the form of investments. Other funds may be moved to support university initiatives or to plug budget holes in other colleges or units across the University of Minnesota system.

While we always hope to get back from the process at least what we put on the table for reallocation -- which means we would stay at the same budgeted expenditure level as the previous fiscal year plus some funding for compensation increases -- there is no guarantee that such will be the case. There are currently a number of units across the system facing serious financial challenges, and we understand we are all in this together as a system, but we will advocate vigorously for CLA’s initiatives.

We are currently in the process of identifying possible items for reallocation and investment. The university strongly prefers that the items put in the reallocation pool be recurring expenses and focused in the category of “leadership and oversight” rather than mission or mission support, and we try hard to meet that goal. At 6.6% of expenses in this category, the college is below the university average of 7.4% as indicated in the Board of Regents Progress Card (scroll to Operational Excellence).

I will report back later in the spring in a Monthly Memo with the results of this year’s process, including our requested and funded investments, and an assessment of how our budget looks heading into fiscal year 2018. With our budget, as always, tuition is by far the largest revenue source and fortunately one over which we have significant control, so the more inventive, attractive, and appealing our curriculum, the better for us collectively as a college. More importantly, the better for our students and their future success.

Within the college, we are at work on Three-Year Planning with a subset of our departments. You can see this year’s list here and a description of the Three-Year Planning process here. I was gratified with the productive and collaborative nature of this process last year. Departments were strategic in thinking about how to enhance their (inter)national profile through building and promoting research and creative excellence (including but not solely through faculty hiring), and how to advance Roadmap goals of student readiness for life after campus, diversity and inclusion, and a deep commitment to public engagement. Likewise, I have had members of a number of departments say that the process has been a useful means by which to focus department energies and strategies around a set of shared goals and priorities.