Dear CFR Unit Leaders,
All of you are aware of the depressed economy and the projected $2 billion+ shortfall in the state budget for the coming biennium. This shortfall will almost certainly impact UW budgets and programs. The Provost has initiated budget discussions with Deans and is beginning to plan for what the upper administration foresees as a continuing permanent condition of reduced state funding for higher education in Washington State.
We must all be engaged in a discussion of how reductions will be implemented in the College. Our strategic goal must be to maintain and strengthen CFR as an essential partner in the UW mission while preserving and enhancing the ability to transform ourselves into the College we must become. We must consider our core mission, vision, and values and align our financial choices accordingly.
The strategies incorporated in the thinking of the UW central administration include: (1) maximizing state support; (2) increasing local revenues such as tuition increases, fee-based programs, indirect cost recovery, gifts, and endowments; (3) making essential investments; and, (4) identifying program and/or service changes such as efficiencies that reduce costs, revenue strategies that include fee-based course opportunities, and decreasing support for low demand programs.
Although at the College level we cannot impact state support or raise tuition, we can and must make use of the remaining strategies in the list above in our planning both for the immediate budget crisis and for the long-term. Plans and programs to increase revenues to the College are currently being developed, but this is part of a long-term strategy and will not help us in the short term. Thus, reduction of current expenditures is unavoidable.
The College has been advised that it's not unreasonable to plan for cuts in the 5 - 15% range. Keep in mind, that at this time, these percentages are nothing more than assumptions that can, and likely will, change as the coming legislative session unfolds. However, it is almost a certainty that we will take a substantial budget cut.
I ask each of you to consider the areas of effort for which you are responsible and identify where and how you will make program and service changes to create efficiencies and reduce the expense of the essential functions for which you are responsible. For planning purposes, I ask each of you to consider the range of budget reductions suggested above. By initiating this review now, I anticipate that all units will be prepared to address specific budget reduction mandates when the final biennial State budget is passed in 2003. Please keep in mind the probability that the state economy will be slow to recover and that we may face additional budget reductions every year for the next several years. And, unless the current climate changes, it seems unlikely that the legislators and voters of this state will approve additional taxes to support higher education.
Taking this long-term view, our budget reduction philosophy should emphasize efficiencies through reorganizing, consolidating, and/or reducing services with the ultimate aim of preserving the essential functions that support our programs. A strategy of preserving everything we are doing while slowly whittling away with evenly distributed budget cuts will not work in the current budget crisis.
I wish to receive your written comments by February 1, 2003. Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this matter. I am confident that with you and your unit colleagues' expertise and creative thinking, we can succeed in overcoming this challenge.
B. Bruce Bare, Dean
cc: CFR Faculty and Staff