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Friday, June 11, 2021

Budget and Compact results for FY 2022

The Board of Regents is discussing the University’s proposed budget at this week’s meeting and will take final action at the end of June. For the college, part of this annual cycle is the conclusion of the Compact process. I’ve noted previously that this year the Compact process instructions required each college and administrative support unit to develop recurring reallocation options (i.e., spending reductions) of 3%, 6%, and 9% of what’s referred to as O&M (basically, tuition and state appropriations) to address the anticipated budget pressures for the upcoming biennium.

In practice, these percentages understate the reductions because a little over one-third of the college budget goes to cost pools to fund University-level services. That makes the nominal 3% reduction more like 4.5% of the remaining two-thirds of the budget, the nominal 6% is in practice 9%, and the 9 percent is 13.5%. Those are significant amounts. The 3% reduction amounted to $7.4 million and the other reductions were multiples of that figure. 

In the end, CLA’s required recurring reallocations came in at 2.5%, a little over $6 million. That’s better than what the 3%, 6%, and 9% scenarios required, but still substantial. University-level support units averaged 3% recurring reallocations in the final University decisions, while academic units averaged 2.7% recurring reallocations. 

The college’s intended actions to address this reduction will be in line with what we’ve previously communicated: reductions in instructional spending (which coincides with a dip in graduate student numbers and undergraduate enrollment), a slowed pace on faculty hiring, reduction of some vacant positions and non-personnel allocations in administrative units, as well as adjustments to the “flow of funds” between the college and academic departments (e.g., savings from staff vacancies, moving some expenses onto endowments, and the like).

This level of reallocations certainly creates challenges, requires difficult choices, and crimps some actions we might otherwise want to take. But overall, I view the upcoming year with optimism. Undergraduate recruitment is going well. Faculty and staff hiring will begin again, not immediately going from 0 to 60, but with a steady drive away from the hiring freeze red light of the past year. Grad admissions will similarly revive. Events and other in-person experiences will begin anew. The range of exciting programs, workshops, and initiatives occurring at the department level that might have been paused during the pandemic will renew. The diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work that has been occurring at multiple levels and in multiple locations through the college will continue to infuse our work and advance our excellence. Ongoing college projects such as the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub (launching its post-pilot stage in newly-renovated Pillsbury Hall), the Public Life Project (launching classes this fall), and the RIGS Initiative (moving to center status) will deepen. And lessons learned from the year-long challenge of the pandemic will inform the new ways we think about the future of work, flexible working arrangements, and the balance between working offsite and on campus. That’s a lot to look forward to.