November 26, 2008

To All Members of the CFR Community

We are all aware of the deepening budget situation in our State and its potential impact on the University of Washington. President Emmert and Provost Wise are deeply involved in discussions with State and campus leaders to minimize the extent and impact of budget reductions across the three campuses of the UW. Their strategy will be to apportion cuts in a differential and strategic manner, and not across the board. The environment is one of the focused areas of strategic investment. Thus, as a proposed inaugural core unit in the College of the Environment, CFR (SFR), will be an area of university investment. I wish to assure each of you that we are also following the evolving budget deficit situation very closely as we gage its potential impact on our College.

Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Issues

In early October, we discussed this topic in relation to budget reductions at the UW that were mandated by the Governor for the current fiscal year (FY 2009). The approximately $10 million of State general funds will be taken from central institutional funds and not individual campus units and/or programs. However, permanent budget reductions totaling $10 million will be reflected in individual campus units (programs) budgets as a carry forward reduction into the next biennium starting July 1, 2009. If prorated equally across campus units, this will represent a budget reduction of about 2.4% of the UW's State general funds.

Based upon additional budget deficit information from the Office of the Governor this week, an additional $7.1 million of State general funds will be requested from the UW's units and/or programs this fiscal year. This represents an additional budget reduction of 1.8% of the UW's State general funds. Combined, the UW will take a 4.2% reduction in its State general funds in FY 2009. And, this will be reflected as a permanent reduction in the various campus units starting July 1, 2009.

In FY 2009, the UW's core education budget is funded from: 1) the State general fund ($401,707,000), 2) the tuition operating fee ($295,500,000) and 3) the Designated Operating Fund ($57,215,000). The budget reductions described above apply only to the State general fund account. Thus, a 4.2% reduction in the State general fund is equivalent to about a 2.2% reduction in the total core education budget from which our College is funded. Because complete budget information is not available, our best guess at this time is that our College will be asked to contribute around $65,000 - $70,000 from our existing state budgets this FY.

Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 Budget Issues

Looking ahead to the next biennium, the Governor has asked the UW to consider a 20% reduction in State general funds. This is roughly a reduction in State general funds of $80 million per year. Again, as a percent of the total core education budget that funds our College, this equates to about an 11% reduction and includes the FY 2009 permanent budget reductions. If this budget reduction scenario is implemented, we will be asked to contribute about $711,000 from our existing state budgets each year of the next biennium.

Strategy for our Future Discussion

To guide the discussions about how to best absorb budget reductions that we are likely to face, we propose to use the following general principles.

College of Forest Resources Budget Reduction Principles

1. Budget decisions are based on the College's strategic priorities that emanate from its mission, vision and goals.

2. Our permanent state budgets will be used to maintain the College's: 1) instructional, 2) research, and 3) service programs - in that order.

3. All permanent state budgets will bear some share of any budget reduction, recognizing the possibility of targeted reductions.

4. With advice from faculty, staff and students, our budget reduction decisions will follow an open, fair, and objective process communicated to the College community in a timely manner.

In implementing the above principles during the current series of budget reductions, the College will:

  • take advantage of the least disruptive opportunities and
  • maintain maximum future flexibility

    Clearly, budget cuts of the magnitude we may face require that we solicit ideas from all members of our community. Thus, we will form an Ad Hoc Budget Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff and students who will solict ideas from throughout the College, hold open meetings (as necessary) to present information, receive additional input and feedback, etc., and submit a report with recommendations to my office for further deliberation and action. Membership of this Committee will be announced in a few days along with timelines. The Committee will be asked to examine three budget scenarios assuming that our College must absorb a 5, 10, or 15% reduction. My office will provide the basic budget information that the Committee requires.

    It is important that we think strategically as we engage in this discussion. While actions we take will have significant, near-term consequences on many of us, we must look 5-10 years into the future and envision the effects of these actions in terms of the College's mission, vision and goals. I am confident that, if we do this and adhere to our core values, we will make the proper choices.

    B. Bruce Bare
    To Return to:Prof Bare's Page, Dean's Office, College of Forest Resources