Plans for budget reductions continue to take shape

Aerial view of campus

Units, schools and colleges are receiving more detailed information from the president and provost about how the recently announced campuswide budget reductions will be allocated.

President Michael H. Schill recently announced $11.6 million in campuswide budget reductions. The reductions are driven by a perfect storm of a multiyear drop in international enrollment, rising labor, retirement and health care costs, and projected funding allocations from the state that are not keeping up with costs.

The university is prioritizing mission-driven activities and priorities. The president has directed Provost Jayanth Banavar and the university vice presidents to protect, as much as possible, the core research and teaching missions of the university, student success initiatives, public safety, career instructional faculty and staff, and revenue-generating activities.

Of the $11.6 million in total reductions, $8.9 million is within the provost’s portfolio, which includes schools, colleges and units such as undergraduate education, information services, libraries, global engagement and cultural programs.

The provost’s portfolio contains about 76 percent of the university’s general fund budget. That office, along with each of the university’s vice presidents, had to establish targets for an average of three percent in reductions to all unshielded administrative functions.

Banavar made the decision that his administrative units need to make average cuts of approximately 5.9 percent. For schools and colleges collectively, the average overall reduction will be approximately 1.8 percent over the next two years. Each vice provost and dean has been instructed to work within their units, schools or colleges to determine how best to make those reductions.

As part of these reductions, the provost also notified leaders in the Oregon Bach Festival, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History that they would take general fund support cuts of $250,000, $314,000 and $225,000 respectively, which equal cuts of 24.4, 15.2 and 16.6 percent of their general fund allocations. All of these units have additional revenue sources, such as grants, contracts, sales and services, and gift funds.

These are larger relative budget reductions in general fund support than the rest of campus to ensure that tuition dollars and state funding go primarily toward activities, units and programs that most directly relate to the teaching and research mission, and impact students’ ability to succeed in the classroom.

“The OBF and the museums are an important part of the university. The arts and cultural studies are important to our faculty and key components of a liberal arts education,” Banavar said. “We also recognize that each of these cultural programs has a deep and committed pool of patrons and supporters, and to the extent possible, we will work to offset budget reductions with additional fundraising efforts and new ideas to earn revenue.”

The provost office is holding a town hall meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, April 22, in the Erb Memorial Union’s Gumwood Room.

The UO will continue to pursue a growth strategy that seeks to stabilize revenue swings by carefully and modestly increasing undergraduate enrollment over the next few years. Schill has stressed that he, faculty members, staff, students and advocates will continue to forcefully make the case for better funding to the Oregon Legislature in Salem.

“The state’s public higher education system needs a consistent and stable funding model that does not continually look to Oregon’s students and families to fill gaps in public support,” Schill said. “We are entering a challenging period, but the hurdles we face are not insurmountable. By working together, the UO can and will come out of these budget challenges stronger and with a clear focus on our very bright shared future.”