Responding to Proposed State Budget Cuts

Dear Members of the UNH Community,

As the Legislature continues its work in Concord, I want to update you on how we are fighting to protect the University’s students, our community, and our mission from a deep state budget cut and how we are planning for the potential impacts that such a sudden loss in revenue could have on UNH.

On March 31, House lawmakers approved a state budget that would result in a 45 percent cut in the state’s contribution to the University System of New Hampshire—for UNH, this would mean a devastating and historic loss of $31 million. The legislative process is not finished, and the budget is now being considered by the state Senate. We’re hopeful the senators will take a closer look at the important and remarkable return on investment that UNH represents for our state’s economy and our students and families.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to review the University System budget at a public hearing on Monday, April 18 at 11 a.m. in Room 103 of the State House. I am confident that UNH will be well represented, and I urge you to stay informed and be involved as the process moves forward.

At the same time, we are working hard to prepare for a range of potential state cuts to UNH. Make no mistake: There will be a cut in our appropriation, and we expect to do our share as New Hampshire weathers this fiscal crisis. Nevertheless, any cut that is significantly deeper than the original reduction recommended by Gov. John Lynch—still a loss of between $5 million and $8 million—will carry serious consequences for UNH, particularly for our students who receive financial aid through the state.

We are preparing in several ways:

•    First, through the Keep UNH Strong website, our budget task force has solicited your ideas for ways we can address the budget challenge. So far, more than 300 suggestions have been submitted, and they will help form the task force’s review. Thank you for your input. Please check the website often for updates.

•    A primary goal of the task force’s discussions is to preserve the quality of our programs and the affordability of UNH for our students and their families.

•    The task force’s review will be extensive and deep. All units and every level of the University will be included as we seek options for identifying savings and generating revenue.

•    If state funding to UNH is ultimately reduced by $31 million, we may need to cut more than 200 positions (7 percent of the workforce) by not filling vacancies, providing incentives for voluntary retirement, and instituting layoffs to achieve a balanced budget in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Clearly, the final budget decision of the Legislature, expected sometime in June, carries great consequences for UNH. We know that the stakes are high, and that the road ahead is uncertain.

But I also give you my sincere pledge that we will devote ourselves to promoting the critical value of UNH to the state’s economy and its citizens in the coming weeks and months—in the Legislature and across the state. I also want to assure you that I have full confidence that the budget task force, the University administration, and the University community can, and will, work together to address our fiscal challenges with openness, fairness, ingenuity, and compassion.

With deep appreciation for your support,

Mark W. Huddleston