University of Southern Mississippi officials are reviewing budget cuts proposed by a campus-wide committee, as well as identifying additional areas for reductions, to lower spending by $11-12 million for fiscal year 2011.
The proposed spending reductions are in response to an anticipated shortfall in state appropriations and general cost increases. The university’s Academic Planning Group (APG), under the leadership of Southern Miss Provost Bob Lyman, has been working since last fall to study budget-related issues and how the university can address those.
“We have never witnessed economic conditions like the ones we face today, which necessitate that we make hard choices,” said President Martha Saunders. “We are in the early stages of a thoughtful, strategic process in which meeting student needs will be our top concern, while finding efficiencies without jeopardizing growth.”
The university plans to reduce spending in the academic area of the university by approximately $7.5 million, and examine non-academic areas for the remaining amount.
The process is moving forward now as the university is obligated by law to inform tenure-track faculty a year in advance if their positions are eliminated. Decisions on program deletions will be made by Sept. 1, according to Dr. Lyman. In the event of program cuts, the university will make accommodations to allow students enrolled in those programs to complete their degrees.
The APG assessed recommendations for cuts from each of the university’s five degree-granting colleges, as well as other academic support units, in order to meet the university’s spending reduction goal. Those recommendations were based on a variety of criteria, including enrollment, centrality or uniqueness to the mission of the university, impact on students and university operations, and if positions could be expended while maintaining program delivery, among others.
Administrators from all non-academic support service divisions were also charged with submitting proposals for cuts in their areas as well.
Proposed spending cuts include elimination of degree programs and unfilled positions, reduction and elimination of travel budgets and designating other programs to be self-supporting, among other recommendations.
To view the entire proposal, click on the following link: http://usm.edu/provost/budget_planning/USMBudgetReductionRecs.pdf
“Our aim is to maintain quality educational programs while making some difficult decisions, and we’ve made the needs of our students our top priority throughout this process,” Dr. Lyman said.
University officials have continually searched for ways to avoid losing personnel by looking at multiple cost-cutting strategies. Those have included hiring freezes and reduction of travel expenses.
“Many educational institutions across the country are experiencing similar or worse situations in what are tough economic times nationally,” Southern Miss Chief Financial Officer Joe Morgan said. “We would be remiss and negligent in our responsibilities not to take a long-term look at the situation and plan for the future.”
Dr. Saunders thanked Dr. Lyman and the APG for their leadership in the budget review process. “Southern Miss will continue to grow, and we will be even stronger once these difficult times have passed,” she said.
For more information about this budget process and the work of the APG, online visit http://www.usm.edu/provost/budget_planning/
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.