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University at Albany Announces Measures to Rethink, Balance and Reallocate Resources in Face of Reduced State Fiscal Support

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ALBANY, N.Y. (October 01, 2010) -- President George M. Philip announced today at a town hall meeting of students, faculty and staff that the University at Albany is faced with rethinking, rebalancing and reallocating its resources to address its ongoing budget challenges. Over the past three years, the University has cumulatively experienced more than $33.5 million in cuts to its base State tax-dollar allocation, a more than 30 percent decline.

Since 2008, the campus has addressed the reductions to its revenue base through the elimination of approximately 200 vacant lines resulting from resignations and retirements, a soft hiring freeze, reductions in non-personal expenditures and temporary service and other such short term measures.

In the current fiscal year, the University at Albany faces a reduction of nearly $12 million in State assistance.

"Given the University at Albany’s reduced revenue base," said President Philip, "it is critically important for the University to rethink, balance and reallocate resources to support its core academic and research mission. Non-strategic and opportunistic short-term measures are simply not compatible with operating an organization on a sustainable basis," said Philip.

By the end of fiscal year 2012, the University expects that the equivalent of another 160 full-time positions will be eliminated, bringing the campus total to more than 360 positions over the four-year period beginning in 2008.

Due to the size of the state budget reduction and the need to rebalance its resources, the University plans, to the extent possible, to minimize the impact of diminished state support by achieving the majority of the reductions through attrition resulting from the early retirement incentive program, voluntary resignations and other future vacancies. Notwithstanding these efforts, involuntary terminations of employment will be unavoidable.

In an effort to protect the University’s academic mission, it plans to have administrative and support units shoulder a higher percentage of the cost savings. Based on what we know now, we anticipate in this fiscal year and next that administrative units will absorb an additional 10 percent reduction in their state operating budgets, while colleges and schools will experience an additional 7 percent reduction. Over the four-year period ending 2012, administrative units will have suffered a state cut of nearly 22.4 percent, while the colleges and schools will have realized a 16.2 percent reduction. Of the reductions between 2008-2012, it is anticipated that nearly three-quarters of the positions will be professional and support staff, while the remaining will be faculty positions.

In this more difficult phase of reallocation planning, all schools and colleges are implementing substantial reduction scenarios. In addition, President Philip issued a directive today to suspend all new admissions to five program areas – Classics, French, Italian, Russian, and Theatre. This decision was based on an extensive consultative process with faculty, and in recognition that there are comparatively fewer students enrolled in these degree programs. This action does not reflect the quality of the faculty appointed to these program areas, or the value of these subjects to the liberal arts. The University will continue to offer a broad array of arts, humanities, and language courses in its curriculum.

The University is also taking steps to prepare for the final year of Project Renaissance, a freshman-year program to help students explore educational opportunities at the University.

As late as August, the University remained hopeful that passage of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, including predictable and rational tuition in the future, was imminent. If adopted as originally proposed, this landmark reform would have helped the University address its current budgetary challenges, while at the same time provide the campus with the tools and resources necessary to advance its academic enterprise. Neither financial nor regulatory relief came to pass during the 2010 Legislative session.

Over the past several years, the University community has been engaged in numerous discussions about the principles that should guide budget-related decisions. Several campus Budget Advisory Groups and the University-wide strategic planning committee provided important guidance and perspectives in responding to the University’s fiscal challenges.

President Philip reassured the faculty that he and the University Provost, Susan D. Phillips, will continue to work with the deans, chairs, and applicable governance bodies to sustain the University’s capacity to offer strong academic programs in areas of high student demand.

"The University remains fully committed to ensuring that all our students will have an opportunity to complete the specific major/program to which they have already been admitted," said Philip. "Equally important, the campus is committed to supporting faculty and staff impacted by resource reallocation and program decisions by providing opportunities to seek placement at another UAlbany program, to explore placement at another SUNY campus, if available, and/or to pursue retraining, where required."

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