UAlbany Budget Updates
Message from President Philip on Thu, Oct 7, 2010
Dear Members of the Campus Community:
I write to address several points of concern raised following my Town Hall meeting last Friday. Over the past week, I have received many notes from the higher education community about the current challenges facing the University at Albany. The many perspectives shared are most appreciated as our University strives to manage $33.5 million in State tax support reductions since 2008. I understand and appreciate the heartfelt sentiments and reactions tied to such difficult decisions. However, there are a number of misperceptions that have surfaced in recent days, which I hope this message will clarify. I also invite you to visit the Budget Update website at www.albany.edu/myualbany for further information.
I. BROAD CAMPUS-WIDE CONSULTATION OVER PAST TWO YEARS
Over the past two years, the University has taken extraordinary measures to engage the campus community in an extensive, inclusive and on-going consultative process regarding its future, in particular with respect to campus financial planning.
Back in Fall 2008, the consultation process started with "The Going Forward Plan" - an effort open to the entire university community ultimately including over 250 participants on campus. Building on the work of the "Going Forward Plan" to define our future direction, the University initiated other campus wide consultative advisory groups including the Strategic Planning Committee and Middle States Self Study.
As the State Budget eroded, the University engaged in more focused consultation through the establishment of Budget Advisory Groups (BAG) I, II, and III - aimed at helping the campus address and respond to its budgetary and fiscal challenges. In total, these groups included faculty and staff from campus departments, faculty governance, and/or members who were specifically vetted by the University Senate. Please visit www.albany.edu/myualbany
to learn more about the membership, charge, and reports of the work of these groups.
Throughout these processes, the need for the University to be focused, strategic, and differentiated was underscored time and again.
In addition, each Division, College and School developed independent budget plans to address the University's overall 30% reduction in State tax support since 2008. These plans were presented and reviewed by BAG III, which included all of the members of the University Planning and Policy Council of the University Senate.
In addition, the academic component of my proposed financial plan announced at the Town Hall has been submitted to the University Senate for its review, consideration, and comment.
II. SUSPENSION OF NEW ENROLLMENT IN FIVE ACADEMIC PROGRAM AREAS
At the Town Hall meeting last week, I announced a directive to suspend new admissions to the degree programs in Classics, French, Italian, Russian, and Theater, with the expectation that those programs would be phased out pending completion of the consultation process. In addition, I announced that we were preparing for the last year of Project Renaissance - one of our first-year living-learning communities. To provide a context for this action, I also provided information about the larger budget picture, and noted that the full $33.5 million loss in State tax support (revealed when the State budget was finalized in mid-August) has not yet been fully resolved.
To be clear, no programs have been cut and no tenured faculty have been removed from their positions. There is, however, a proposal advanced to phase out these academic programs eventually. This proposal has been submitted to the University Senate, and I have asked for their response by November 19, 2010.
III. VALUING THE HUMANITIES AT UALBANY
It is important to note that while this proposed course of action would affect the opportunity to pursue a full degree program in Classics, French, Italian, Russian, and Theater, it does not eliminate our commitment to sustain our offerings in the humanities, including, as possible, instruction in the French, Russian or Italian languages. The University at Albany currently offers 13 languages: Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, French, Hebrew, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Subject to student demand, courses in other languages are periodically offered in the curriculum. A number of literature and culture courses of study are also available in these areas. We would also hope it might be possible to sustain some presence of the theatrical arts, joining our other strong Humanities curriculum offerings found in the Departments of Art, English, East Asian Studies, History, Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Music, and Philosophy, as well as in those areas of scholarship and study in the humanistic tradition located in other departments. Please be assured that the University at Albany fully values the critically important role that the Humanities play in the intellectual life of a university community, and appreciates the invaluable contributions made by our faculty across its disciplines.
IV. THE MAJORITY OF REDUCTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE OF THE COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
While the program areas noted above are all in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the majority of the budget reduction targets lie outside CAS. It is important to note that CAS represents about 25% of the total University State operating budget, yet it is managing a cut equivalent to 16% of the University's total targeted reduction, or about $5.5 million. The other Schools and Colleges are addressing a combined targeted reduction of over $6 million, while the non-academic units and other campus operating cost centers are facing a nearly $22 million targeted reduction.
V. TIMING OF THE BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT
One of the reasons for making the announcement now -before the full budget picture is final-is to bring our plans and the consultation process to a broader arena for conversation, as well as to afford both students and faculty as much time as possible to consider their future in the event such plans are enacted. With the limitations of the academic enrollment and recruitment cycles, along with the closing of early State retirement window in December, it is important to provide as much opportunity for conversation as possible.
Once again, I thank you for your dedication and commitment to the University, and I look forward to continuing our collegial and constructive dialogue in the days and weeks ahead.
George M. Philip