November 17, 2008
2009 Issue 5 

Budget Restructuring helps shape our future

2007 restructuring positions University to address future challenges

President Jon E. Quistgaard

An underlying message of the Nov. 6 budget forums was that uncertain financial times continue when it comes to projecting the University's budget for the next few years. That uncertainty arises, in large part, from the state's budget deficit, our state system's tuition cap and whether it will be maintained, and the national economic downturn.
The good news is that, because of the progress made in reaching our 2007 budget restructuring goals, we are better positioned to address the emerging budget challenges than we would have been without the restructuring directives.
In February 2007, we began implementing a $5 million budget re-structuring plan to reduce our budget, realign programs and services, and create new avenues for investing in the future. This restructuring plan included $4 million in operating reductions and $1 million in investments to strengthen revenue streams.
Every area of the University has been affected by the budget plan, with $3.25 million in restructuring already implemented in the academic, physical plant, and student services areas. As part of the plan, the athletic department also was asked to restructure its annual budget by $750,000. A fund raising campaign for the hockey program has raised $500,000 per year for the next five years and helps the athletic department progress toward its restructuring goals.
The department's recent reorganization proposal, including its call to eliminate men's track and field, continues its response to the 2007 re-structuring directive. The proposal enables the athletic department to restructure its programs and reallocate an estimated $60,000 to expand its women's programs in cross-country and in track and field.
While addressing gender equity, the department's proposal extends beyond those guidelines and addresses the long-term competitiveness of its programs. The Department of Athletics restructuring better positions it to more fully support the remaining sports and provide our student athletes with a well-rounded experience.
The strength of the department's proposal is that it addresses all three areas of the University's 2007 budget directive --budget restructuring, realignment of offerings, and investments for the future. Proposals that address these three areas offer the most viable solutions over the long term.
Currently, the Department of Athletics, along with the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration, is obtaining feedback on the proposal. Final recommendations will be forward to me, and I will make a decision by the end of the semester.
Like most higher education institutions across the nation, we must consider and make decisions that are responsive to the times. I remain confident that together we will continue to move forward and, along the way, we will choose the best of the available options.
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