Spending concerns addressed

  Student concerns about the handling of University’s budget may be misplaced, according to some administrators.   In a letter addressed to the UVM community, Provost Jane Knodell and President John Bramley said that statements made about UVM’s General Fund revenues and expenses have been incorrect   “Folks have put out information that we felt needed further clarification,” Vice President of Finance Richard Cate said. “We were concerned that if it was left unchallenged, people would believe that it was all accurate.”   The data provided by Bramley and Knodell addressed the budget trends between the years 2002 and 2011 because student criticism has been directed toward the spending trends of the past 10 years, Cate said.   According to the Budget Report:   ·      The amount of money that the University pays on its debt on academic facilities has increased by 448 percent between 2002 and 2011. This amounts to about $16 million of the 2011 budget.   ·      The General Fund expense for supporting the on-campus Deans and Vice Presidents has increased 41 percent between 2002 and 2011, amounting to 1.15 percent of the 2011 budget. ·      Revenue from student tuition has increased about 177 percent between the years 2002 and 2011, amounting to more than half of the 2011 budget. ·      The budget also indicates that student financial aid has increased by 177 percent between the years 2002 and 2010 and currently costs over $85 million. ·      The increase in faculty and academic administration costs between the years 2002 and 2011 has increased at a rate 10 times that of the cost for deans and presidents.   Cate said that the increase in spending is due to the University playing catch up on renovating and developing its academic facilities over the past decade.   “I don’t think that building Jeffords Hall was a bad thing. I don’t think that fixing up classrooms and academic buildings is a bad thing.” Cate said. “It is what we need to do to keep pace. We always continue to maintain the campus.”   Some students have expressed concern that the administration is putting money into buildings instead of people, he said. The reality is that the majority of the University mortgage is for academic buildings, Cate said.   “As you walk around campus you can see the flyers that say ‘the administration has grown by this exponential proportion and meanwhile people are not getting raises’ and that sort of thing,” he said.   Other students have voiced concern that their tuition is paying for the salaries of a growing administration instead of the academic quality of the University, Cate said.   “I think it’s stupid that they’ve cut back on faculty and increased administrative salaries at the same time,” junior Morgan Dent said.  “One thing that’s good is that a lot of the budget goes to financial aid. Considering how expensive tuition is, I think that’s a really great thing.”   Financial aid and faculty and academic administration cost increases suggest that the University is focused on academic quality, Cate said.   “That’s where our priorities have been,” he said. “Financial aid growth far outpaced tuition increases.”   To combat rising tuition, endowments have been an increasingly strategic means of generating revenue for the General Fund, Cate said.   “Our development office is constantly seeking donations,” he said. “The next campaign will be for $500 million over an eight year period.”   Much of the endowment money has restrictions that are partial to specific faculty or departments, Cate said. The unrestricted revenue coming in from the endowment is only about 1.5 percent of the entire budget.   “It is important to do enough analysis so you know the facts,” Cate said. “If you have a doubt come and ask the questions.”