Faculty Council budget committee offers guide to approaching cuts

Chair Malone: 'These are the things we're going to try to protect'

The systemwide Faculty Council's budget committee has developed a set of written guidelines aimed at protecting what its members value most as campuses confront budget limitations for the coming fiscal year.

Committee Chair Mark Malone presented the list of six priorities during the council's Thursday, Feb. 25, meeting at 1800 Grant St., Denver.

"This is us saying, here's the outlook we're operating under. These are the things we're going to try to protect," Malone said after the meeting. "We're trying to protect the interests of the university."

The budget committee's priorities:

  1. Focus on improving the academic and research mission of the university.
  2. Recognize unique campus circumstances and expertise by devolving budget-cut decisions down to the campus level.
  3. Recognize the importance of the campuses to their local communities and do not consider merging overlapping programs across campuses without careful evaluation of the local impact.
  4. Carefully consider the impact of proposed cuts on tuition revenue and student progress toward meeting graduation requirements.
  5. Strategically apply budget cuts to preserve and protect the contribution margins of campus units that already provide significant subsidies to other campus units.
  6. Establish a quasi-public model and identify savings by further disentangling the university from state purchasing, travel program, etc.

Malone emphasized to the council that the priorities list is merely a set of recommendations that leaders at each campus might want to consider.

"We don't want a systemwide budget committee saying, 'You have to make cuts this way,'" Malone said at the meeting.

In other business at Thursday's meeting, the council:

  • Heard a report from and asked questions of Steve Bosley, chair of the Board of Regents. Discussing the dire status of state funding to higher education, he acknowledged that "everything is on the table" in terms of potential cuts to the university budget. "Will there be some agony? Absolutely. But we're not going to become a fifth-rate institution," he said. "That's not on the drawing board." He said that the regents won't review recommended cuts at the campus level on a line-by-line basis. "That's not our job."
  • Received an update on the university's consideration of switching to a self-funded health plan. E. Jill Pollock, senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer for the university, said forums are planned for each campus to discuss the changes, which would begin with employee health premiums being held in a trust for use only by participating employees. She also said, "It's time for us to incorporate wellness and prevention into our program." (See related story here.)

The next Faculty Council meeting is set for March 18.