Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Letter from Dr. Sethna on the Budget Crisis

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, we had approximately 48 hours to develop and submit a budget reduction plan for $8.1M by noon on Saturday. We have done so, and have been informed that it will be public by the end of today.

It is natural that colleagues and students have questions as to what is in that plan. Attached are a summary of the plan and the detailed plan itself (perhaps, in view of our dire budget situation, you might consider printing only that portion of the detailed plan in which you have a special interest).

First, and most importantly, I cannot stress strongly enough that any submission is a work in progress and a DRAFT. Indeed, it is our hope that the Legislature, when they see the enormous pain that would occur, would seriously modify their approach on these counts:

1. The level of State cuts (given official estimates, choosing a one Billion dollar cut may or may not be the right thing to do).

2. Imposing a 30% share on the USG when our share of the budget is 12% (which we hope they will also realize is not the right thing to do).

3. Not funding the Formula in the USG budget (i.e. we hope that the formula will be fully funded).

Thus, I hope that the vast majority of the draft plans for UWG and 34 other institutions will *NOT* become reality. You can help by sharing your thoughts with your elected representatives. As a citizen, I am personally conveying my sentiments that this plan is likely to hurt the very future of this state by a systematic reduction of our intellectual capital -- including faculty, support functions, and students. United States Senator Isakson, when he was on campus a few days ago, made a point of saying that our political system is not a spectator sport -- it is an intensely participative one; so, it would be very appropriate for each of us to let our elected representatives know how we feel about these cuts.

Please know that this DRAFT plan is predicated on several assumptions:

* A Billion dollar additional cut, and

* The USG being compelled to take a 30% cut although it accounts for only 12% of the state's budget, and

* No new formula funding, and

* No additional revenue sources for the state such as targeted taxes, and

* No tuition increases, and

* No new fees, and

* No new furloughs.

The probability of all seven of these items coming true next year, we hope, is very small. Your efforts can help change legislators' minds on the items that they control. Indeed, my hope is that it is there that efforts are focused, rather than on the details of the draft plan.

That scenario is some time away. We hope it never happens. You can impact that probability.

We have engaged the Faculty Senate Budget Committee – I met with them on Friday and we had a good session in terms of generating ideas for additional cost savings. While we are one of the most efficient Universities in Georgia (in terms of FTE produced per dollar of state appropriation), we can certainly strive to do even better. Please share thoughts for added efficiencies with Dr. David Boldt (Chair) or Dr. Charles Hodges (who chaired Friday’s meeting).

My respectful suggestion is that we focus our efforts in the coming days on such efforts, and on communicating any concerns to our elected representatives (without the use of state resources). I cannot sufficiently stress the need for urgency in this matter.

Communication approaches to disseminate this information include:

* This message to All-Faculty and All-Staff (in addition to the one sent on February 25, 2010)

* Meeting with Academic Department Chairs and Deans this morning

* Sharing the detailed draft plan and a Summary (attached)

* Video message to the UWG community (URL to be sent soon)

* Two Open Meetings (to accommodate different class schedules):

o Tuesday, March 2, 2010 (2 p.m., Bonner), and

o Wednesday, March 3, 2010 (Noon, Campus Center Ballroom 108.2)

* Meetings with Students:

o SGA, February 25, 2010

o Open Meeting for all students: March 2, 2010, 7 p.m.

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