No consensus on balancing budget

On Friday, the Board of Trustees met to discuss upcoming challenges for UVM.Due to the recent stresses on the budget, the majority of the discussion at the Board meetings was focused on how UVM will cut spending and increase efficiency.According to the Board of Trustees Web site, the Board is responsible for the entire management and control of property and affairs of the University. The Board of Trustees sets and approves policies, budgets and strategic planning.Chairperson Ian Boyce and President Daniel Mark Fogel addressed the 25-person board before the meeting was opened up to other representative members of the UVM staff. Fogel reiterated his optimism in his oral President’s Report as well as throughout the meeting, saying that much can be done to increase the efficiency of UVM as a result of the budgetary challenges. He cited the words of Representative Rahm Emmanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”One point of focus at the meeting was the relationship between UVM, as a public-private university, and the government, as a source of income.Detailing a new state funding prediction, Richard tion, said a larger rescission than previously expected. This was previously unknown to the board, as the budget was still evolving on Thursday night before the meeting.Over the years, there have been certain trends in enrollment that worried some board members, notably, trustee Robert Cioffi.The percentage of students who are paying nothing due to financial aid has risen from 23 to 29 percent in the last three years, and the percentage of students who are paying full price has decreased from 32 percent to 24 percent, Cioffi said.”As the state cuts the budget, they force us to rely on tuition,” trustee Susan Hudson Wilson said in response. “We can’t have it both ways.”As the day progressed, there were discussions about where cuts could potentially occur. One member of the Board suggested using the budget as a means to completely cut certain undesirable programs, although Fogel countered by saying that a university reaches excellence gradually, not through sudden change. He said he would not like to see UVM without any of its colleges.Despite expressing a clear philosophical approach to “build academic quality,” Fogel acknowledged that the decision-making process would be difficult. “There really aren’t easy answers,” he said about where and how deans and presidents can reduce expenditures. “I don’t want to understate how painful this is,” Fogel said.