As the first step in the budget reduction and reallocation process I briefed the Academic Planning Committee, deans and directors, and representatives of the Faculty Senate, ASUN, UNOPA, and UAAD on Feb. 3 about the situation we face. I wanted to share this briefly with the rest of you.
The budget deficit we face totals $4.6 million. This consists of four separate parts: (1) $800,000 which is UNL’s share of the deficit within the budget for this year approved by the Board of Regents; (2) $570,000 in additional campus expense to operate new buildings (primarily the Morrison Center); (3) About $2 million that was carried over from last year caused by a shortfall in tuition; and (4) About $1 million as a shortfall this year in tuition.
While enrollment grew this year, the tuition shortfall occurred because the growth in paid credit hours came mostly in “distance education” taken by our resident students. Because of an incentive structure we put in place several years ago to encourage UNL colleges to create distance-education courses, about 53 percent of the tuition available to UNL goes directly to the colleges and is unavailable to support the base budget of the university. While this program has been important in creating teaching capacity and providing other resources to the colleges, going forward we will need to address the structure to provide greater incentive for distance education programs that bring in new money rather than those that divert base tuition dollars.
The vice chancellors and I believe we have a way, subject to APC approval, to address the bulk of this deficit without implicating academic programs or requiring elaborate budget reduction activities within the various units of the university. The campus process has several steps. We hope to conclude the process within the April time frame.
We are positioned well for the future. But I thought it important to not allow this deficit to continue to serve as an anchor to our progress. We hope to get it cleaned up and to move forward from there.
Many thanks for your continuing support.