Colleges bear brunt of deficit

As a result of funding recession in Vermont State appropriations, UVM’s projected budget shortfall rose from $22 million to $28 million, University President Daniel Mark Fogel said in an e-mail sent out on Dec. 17, 2008.Budget reductions have been set between 4.75 percent and 6.5 percent, and the deans and vice presidents of the University have been making decisions in recent weeks to meet these goals.The deans’ recommendations for meeting the 2009 budget goal is set to be submitted to the administration on Friday, with the 2010 budget meeting set for Jan. 23.In order to make these decisions, people such as Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Thomas Vogelmann and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Eleanor Miller are getting the faculty and staff involved in order to ensure that the right kind of cuts are being made.”I had one big public meeting where I invited all the faculty and the staff to hear what they had to say and to give them a sense of where the cuts could be made,” Miller said.Vogelmann has also been having open forums with staff, but suggests another benefit. “These sessions are also useful in that we use them as rumor-busting sessions, because there’s a lot of talk about what may happen out there,” Vogelmann said. “And I’m putting some boundaries on what may not happen.”While the decision-making process may be extensive, Miller said that the areas in which cuts can be made are limited. “Almost all of our budget is wrapped up in salaries, so when they tell you to cut or when you have to cut, the only thing we really have to cut is people,” she said.Vogelmann estimated that roughly 90 percent the money that flows through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is personnel-related.UVM, along with other struggling universities, has been trying cut costs by leaving vacated positions unfilled. It appears that deans will have to cut more aggressively, especially in order to meet the large target cuts for fiscal year 2010.After leaving vacated positions, “the next thing we can do is not reappoint people whose contracts are coming to an end, and we’ll do some of that, and then we will probably have to lay off some staff,” Miller said.”We have 25 or 30 options and each one has a number associated with it, and I’m looking at it and the associate deans are looking at it,” Vogelmann said. “We’ll be having a meeting with the department chairs this next week to put some of these options before them.”This isn’t a situation where one person makes a decision. We’re all in the same boat, and we all have to figure out the best way to move forward,” Vogelmann said.