Message from President Cruzado discussing proposals from the Listening and Learning Sessions
Dear MSU Community:
The final weeks of the semester are here and, with them, the need to bring important initiatives and projects to closure. It would seem that everybody is walking a little bit faster, trying to complete the many tasks assigned for the day. Along with considerations about final exams, graduation, and plans for the summer months, as an institution we need to plan for the next academic year by finalizing our budget.
During the Listening and Learning Sessions, people brought to my attention good questions and ideas about how to reduce spending and how to invest in the future of Montana State University. Yesterday, I asked the University Planning and Budget Committee (UPBAC) to consider two proposals that were, in large measure, the product of specific recommendations received during several of the Listening and Learning Sessions. These two proposals were approved unanimously and I would like to explain both of them:
- Management of FY 10 One-Time-Only (OTO) Funds – This proposal addresses the expenditure reductions that are being implemented by the State of Montana. The campuses of the Montana University System are slated to receive a reduction of a 2.6% of our General Fund allocation, or about $1 million for both Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2011. Additional reductions and adjustments are still under consideration at different levels of the Montana University System, including possible higher reduction percentages for our Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension Service, and Fire Services Training School.
Yesterday, UPBAC unanimously approved using the OTO funds produced by the student enrollment growth experienced this academic year to respond to the expenditure reductions. In doing so, we avoid impacting academic units with further cuts and, therefore, we protect the academic core of our mission. Importantly, it focuses on the use of these funds to address student needs.
This proposal modifies the allocation that had been planned by UPBAC last fall in three important ways: a) it preserves initiatives that will directly benefit students by distributing funds for additional class sections, to be coordinated by the Provost’s Office, and by continuing admission-related efforts conducted by the Office of Student Affairs; b) it postpones distribution of funds for valuable projects until the financial situation improves; and c) it reverts to the institutional reserve the funds previously designated for use by the President and Vice Presidents.
- Restoring of Benefits Management to Central Offices – This proposal addresses the concerns and recommendations received regarding the allocation and payment of employee benefits. Yesterday, UPBAC unanimously approved a motion to revert the responsibility for the management of benefit funds to the central offices. The change will be effective July 1, 2010. To provide for a smooth transition, the Budget Office will coordinate with the Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, Department Heads and Directors. Later today, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, Craig Roloff, will distribute a memo with details on the implementation of this change.
I want to thank the members of UPBAC for being responsive and sensitive to the recommendations that we have received from the MSU community. I also want to thank our faculty, students, staff, alumni and constituents for their valuable suggestions. Together, we are building an event better and stronger MSU.