Fogel talks budget

Vermont Cynic: Is UVM’s budget going to remain stable? Daniel Mark Fogel: You know, we really hope it will stabilize. The reason for looking at a two-phase process is that there are a number of issues that will affect our revenue estimates by mid-spring. We just thought we should play for time to see what happens not only with the state appropriation, but also with our projected tuition revenues next year based upon our best enrollment projections, including the yield on the incoming class and the net of financial aid. We are increasing financial aid by a full $10 million next year, including a decision as we work through this budget challenge to increase that amount by $3 million over the earlier plan. We are also keeping an eye on our grants and contracts, which so far look very strong, stronger than last year, but they bring in a lot of money from indirect cost recovery. And we will be watching the investment income as well. Then we’ll make a decision as to whether further layoffs are necessary. We hope not, but we are trying to take a sensible approach to an inescapable financial reality and we are trying to put the budget on a really sound and sustainable footing going forward, which means that we need to permanently address the balance of the base budget, both in terms of revenue and spending. VC: Was there any consideration to restructure some departments to legally terminate tenured or tenure-track positions? Fogel: Absolutely not. The tenured and tenure-track faculty are the core of the academic excellence and our first principle when approaching budget reconciliation has been to preserve academic quality, including the quality of the student experience. There is a different situation, of course, with the lecturers. They are a very important and, I would say, highly valued part of the instructional faculty. So as far as we can tell, it appears that there are as many as 12 full time lecturers who are likely not to be re-appointed next year. VC: Out of how many? Fogel: I don’t know. Hundreds. It appears at the moment that there maybe be as many as 12 full time [lecturers that will not be re-appointed], and in addition [there will be] a much larger number of people who teach maybe one course a year, or two courses a year, and who add up to less than 12 full-time equivalents, or perhaps 10. VC: What drove the cuts for the men’s baseball and women’s softball teams?Fogel: For those two teams, I believe that the savings come to something between $850,000 and $900,000. Softball is a relatively new sport at UVM, and we have a long tradition in baseball, but it is truly an expensive sport for us. We asked department heads to make decisions that were strategic and it is the same with athletics. As painful as this decision was, I am fully supportive of Athletic Director Robert Corran in making those decisions. VC: Were these teams notified beforehand?Fogel: They were notified today. Both the coaches and the players, yes, this morning.VC: What was the mentality behind cutting the physical therapy services?Fogel: We felt the services are available through Fletcher Allen Health Care and that was an area where we could help to bring expenses in line with revenues. Given our very large investment in student financial aid, we’ve increased the value from $52 million to $62 million in one year to support students and their families with what they’re facing in this difficult economic climate. VC: Is the $10 million additional dollars toward for financial aid mandated legally?Fogel: No, there’s no legal mandate for financial aid. In fact, I suppose we could offer no financial aid at all, but, no, it’s an estimate of what we need to do to still be competitive, to attract very capable and diverse and motivated students to the University and to address all of the changes in student need. If [the student’s providers] lost their jobs, if they’re out of employment now, we won’t see that yet in the FAFSA, so we expect the need and the expected family contributions to grow beyond what was reflected on those FAFSAs based on 2007 federal tax returns.So we’re hedging our bets against that, we want to create as much of a safety net as we can under our students to help them and also to maintain the quality of the academic programs, especially high-quality and diverse student enrollment.VC: Was there an act or contract between the Faculty Union and UVM?Fogel: Let me go back to what I said in the beginning. We are deeply mindful of the impact of job loss on individuals. We are going to be working hard to transition people to new jobs including wherever feasible placement in vacant positions within the University.We’re talking about 16 people – Dartmouth just laid off about 60 people. Our situation is truly very different and on a much smaller scale than what we’re seeing at other public and private institutions around us.Most of the staff that are being laid off are not represented [by a union]. Some are, but most are not and for those we have designed our own packages of support. For instance, we are giving t em, with the University’s normal generous contribution, medical and dental coverage for two months after their employment ends.Full Fogel Interview – Click Here!