Letter regarding University budget, April 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Although the University of New Hampshire has faced financial challenges throughout its history, the members of this community have always rightly insisted on safeguarding the quality of our core academic missions—teaching, research, and public service. We shall keep faith with that tradition as we grapple with our latest budget challenges, serious as they are. Owing to reduced state appropriations, a decline in the value of our endowment and fewer than expected research dollars, we need to close a gap of $9 million in our operating budget for FY10 and $17 million for FY11. We will do this without compromising the quality of the education we provide to our students, the research we undertake to further human understanding, or the service we provide to the people of New Hampshire.

Safeguarding these core missions will require sacrifices in other areas. It will also necessitate the sort of creativity and ingenuity for which members of the UNH community have long been known as we seek to diversify and enhance our revenue streams.

Accordingly, I want to share with you today the budget mitigation steps I have approved, following extensive consultation with the Central Budget Committee:

• Salaries will be frozen for all non-bargaining unit employees whose annualized pay is more than $40,000. Salaries for AAUP faculty and UNH Police Department patrol officers are being negotiated now, with the goal of settlements that are fair to unit members and the entire community.

• UNH will seek approval from the USNH Board of Trustees to raise resident undergraduate tuition rates to levels that more nearly reflect the real direct costs of education. To ensure continued access and affordability for all applicants, our financial aid budget will increase commensurately.

• We will work with the Chancellor’s office to constrain the growth of system-wide administrative costs and thus the amount of money transferred from UNH to the University System of New Hampshire.

• All Responsibility Center (RC) units will submit plans to their respective vice presidents by April 25 for FY10 and by October 15 for FY11 detailing specific measures to reduce costs and enhance revenues.  Plans will be then submitted to the Central Budget Committee and I will make decisions by April 30 for FY10 and by October 31 for FY11.

In addition to these relatively high-yield measures, I would note that we are also moving to implement some of the very helpful suggestions made by colleagues from across the UNH community via the budget suggestions email address. Immediate steps we will take include:

1. Restricting business meal expenditures
2. Limiting use of consultants/external contractors
3. Limiting conference/training travel
4. Reducing memberships and subscriptions
5. Reducing coffee and bottled water costs
6. Restricting printing and mail costs
7. Reducing ISP and cell phone expenses
8. Placing a moratorium on office renovation

Balancing our budget is not just about cutting costs and raising tuition. UNH has also been aggressively pursuing opportunities to increase revenue, including money made available through the federal stimulus package. For instance, we are grateful that the governor has agreed to provide $3 million to the University System from the money made available to New Hampshire through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; of this $3 million, roughly $2 million will flow to UNH. An additional $1.8 million has been secured to support Wildcat Transit. We are submitting applications under new energy grant programs announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy in their portions of the stimulus funding. We also are examining ways to apply for stimulus funds for capital projects involving our science and engineering buildings.

UNH is blessed with enterprising and talented faculty and staff.  I encourage anyone with proposals or ideas pertaining to the stimulus to visit the Vice President for Research Web site to learn more about our efforts to capitalize on the funding opportunities.

Finally, I would stress that it is important for us to think in terms of contingencies as we work through these challenges. If the steps outlined above prove insufficient to meet our projected deficits, we will need to consider a central hiring freeze, mandatory furlough days for all non-bargaining unit employees, and other budget reduction measures. Similarly, if the horizon proves to be brighter than it may now appear, we need to be prepared to ease some of the more onerous budget restrictions, especially in the area of salary increases for non-bargaining unit employees.

I know that the sacrifices I have asked for are painful and that the uncertainty of our present situation is wearing on everyone. We are all looking forward to seeing the green shoots of spring in our economy as well as in our gardens. In the meantime, I thank you again for your patience and continued assistance as we work through this predicament together.

Mark W. Huddleston
University of New Hampshire