By SUSANNAH CLARK and MILES DUMVILLE
In potentially its largest annual budget reduction this decade, the University of Mary Washington plans to slash its spending by 15 percent in the next academic year. Following a revenue shortfall of $7 billion, Gov. Tim Kaine has ordered colleges and universities across Virginia to do the same.
Last year the University faced a similar 15 percent budget cut, which was later reduced to 8 percent after the addition of federal stimulus funds. In all, spending was cut by $1.6 million.
Kaine has again asked the federal government for more stimulus funding this year to reduce financial pressures.
Vice President of Business and Finance Rick Pearce estimates that UMW has experienced a 20 percent budget deficit overall since 2002.
“The University is still recovering from budgets cuts that went into effect during the 2002-2003 school year,” Pearce said.
In an email to faculty, President Hample stated that “UMW is presently in a strong financial position.”
“I am confident this great institution and our fine employees will be able to sustain the high quality educational experience which students and parents have come to expect of us,” Hample wrote.
According to Richard Hurley, vice president of student affairs, the administration had anticipated more budget cuts this year, but no decisions have been made as to where the cuts will come from. Hurley and Hample plan to meet in the coming week to discuss a course of action.
“Our priorities are campus safety and security, the instructional side of the institution and student health, especially in light of H1N1,” Hurley said in an interview on Wednesday.
Projects that will not be affected by the budget cuts, he added, include the construction at Eagle Village and the upcoming renovations to Mason and Randolph Halls, both of which have separate funding.
“For last year’s cut, we reduced the operating budgets on the non-instructional side of the institution, meaning that we protected the academic side—faculty and departmental budgets and faculty salary lines and things of that sort,” Hurley said.
Last year, the administration imposed a faculty hiring freeze in response to the 8 percent cut.
“There are 16 or so positions that we froze last year, and those will remain empty,” Hurley said.
Last year’s budget reduction did not cut into Student Finance, according to Hurley. At this year’s financial training session for UMW clubs, a student member of the Finance Committee announced that OSACS’s funding was $20,000 more than in the fall semester of 2008.
“Any decision that we make will be made by the end of the month,” Hurley said, adding that the cuts would go into effect “immediately.”
Professor Mary Rigsby, president of the Faculty Senate, is certain that the Senate will discuss the budget cuts will at their next meeting, scheduled for October.
In regard to impact on professors during past budget crunches, Rigsby said that faculty development money, which funds travels and research, was cut. She added that professors have found ways to cut down on spending, including relying more on e-mail and Blackboard correspondences and cutting down on paper use.
“We’ve all found ways to manage the budget,” Rigsby said of past years.
Hurley said that while faculty cuts are possible for next year, the administration is trying their best not to dip in the academic departments at Mary Washington.
Rigsby said professors at Mary Washington took action to oppose firings during last year’s budget cuts.
“The faculty took a strong stand on urging the President not to lay people off,” Rigsby said. “I think that we can have confidence in President Hample.”
While Hurley is optimistic about protecting faculty positions, he acknowledged that the cuts would have to come from somewhere.
“Upkeep of the campus is always at risk,” he said. “Student Affairs has endured their share of the cuts in the past and it is my guess that they will be getting more.”
Rigsby said the budget cuts would not affect the intimate classroom dynamic between faculty and students.
“That part of Mary Washington life [would] be the last thing to be changed,” she said.