$5 million budget reduction proposed


Chancellor Harvey Perlman on April 14 announced proposals for reductions to the fiscal year 2011-12 UNL budget totaling $5 million. The proposed cuts are in response to the need to address increased university expenses including utilities, insurance and operating costs.

"This is the type of news I never like having to deliver to you," Perlman wrote in a campuswide e-mail. "While the Legislature's budget proposal calls for no reductions in our state funding over the course of the next two years - and we are encouraged by that proposal - we still need to address increasing expenses."

The proposed cuts include:

- eliminating the master’s degree program in Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

- eliminating the K-12 art education program in the College of Education and Human Sciences.

- eliminating the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering, but retaining the master’s program.

- eliminating the study of organ in the School of Music in Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

- restructuring Academic Affairs to incorporate the functions now carried out by Undergraduate Studies.

- closing and razing University Terrace and relocating existing occupants. The aging building needs significant repairs.

- discontinuing printing class schedules. The document would be available in electronic formatting only.

- the reduction of on-campus mail delivery from five days a week to every other day.

The proposed reductions would eliminate two pre-tenured faculty members, 15 unfilled tenure-track faculty positions, and 2 FTE filled non-tenure-track teaching positions. Two vacant unfilled non-tenure-track positions, 1.8 filled staff positions and 34 vacant staff positions would be cut as well.

The faculty reductions include 14.0 FTE faculty positions that are being vacated by retirements through the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, or VSIP.

“The serious impact of this reduction is the loss of approximately 56 course sections per year that will have to be absorbed by existing faculty,” said Ellen Weissinger, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“This also means a loss of student mentoring and advising capacity. These unfilled positions represent a significant loss of future curriculum enhancements, teaching innovations and research productivity. These reductions will be allocated across the colleges in accordance with future strategic planning priorities at the college and campus levels."

Current projections suggest UNL may face a possible reduction of $10-$15 million over the next two years, according to Perlman. By taking a $5 million reduction now, the university will realize immediate savings in some recurring costs.

The proposal now goes to the Academic Planning Committee. The APC will hold hearings on the proposals and make recommendations to the chancellor. Perlman anticipates making final determinations on the proposed reductions in June.

"As I have said before, cutting our way to greatness is not a recipe for success," Perlman said. "I fully recognize that these proposals take the university in the wrong direction toward the vision of becoming a top-ranked national university. Unfortunately, our available resources don’t always match with what it will take to make our vision a reality. We continue to accomplish a great deal with increasingly limited resources, and I appreciate the courage and integrity it takes for all of you to stay focused."

The proposed reductions were recommended as they do the least damage to UNL's central focus on undergraduate education and research. However, Perlman said the reductions are still damaging, and, "to label it as anything else would be disingenuous."

"Again, I am sorry to have to deliver this news," Perlman said in his message to faculty, staff and students. "I am very proud of this university and the tremendous forward momentum that all of you have had a part in making a reality."

- Meg Lauerman, University Communications

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/vqi