Shelton warns staff layoffs possible next year
Academic units at the University of Arizona have been asked to return half a percent of their budget to pay for the UA’s portion of the $26 million budget cut required of the state university system last week by the Legislature.
Nonacademic units will be returning 1 percent of this year’s allocated funds.
The Arizona Board of Regents Friday unanimously approved a proportional share distribution of a $14.7 million segment of the $26 million that must be shared by the three state universities.
UA’s portion is $5.9 million, which is 40.2 percent of the $14.7 million total. Arizona State University will carry about $6.6 million of the cut, or 45 percent, and Northern Arizona University will shoulder about $2.2 million or 14.8 percent.
The two remaining parts of the $26 million budget cut are a $10.5 million rollback of a one-time allocation for schematic designs for the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix; and a $875,000 rollback of the regents’ funding for the Math & Science Teacher Initiative Loan program.
UA and ASU will each shoulder $5.25 million of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix rollback, bringing UA’s total budget hit to more than $11 million.
The cut represents a 2.5 percent overall reduction of UA’s current budget, according to the regents’ report.
Miranda Joseph, chair of UA’s Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee and a member of President Robert N. Shelton’s cabinet, said discussions about how to handle budget cuts have been ongoing “for months.”
She said the provost sent letters to college deans three days before the Legislature announced the final adjustments to the 2008 fiscal year budget, detailing exactly how much each college needed to cut.
Deans are responsible for dividing the cut among the departments in their colleges, Joseph said.
The half percent from academics and 1 percent from support units only accounts for $2.5 million of the $5.9 million UA must bear, less the rollback for the Phoenix medical school.
The remaining $3.4 million will come from the offices of the president and provost, said Shelton.
“It is coming from money we didn’t spend in anticipation of this problem,” he said. “We are not looking at permanent cuts yet and we are not looking at any cuts in staff.”
Shelton said he’s told deans and department heads to limit hiring to critical positions and to “hire on a temporary basis and not tenure-track” while the university waits for what all believe will be a much more substantial cut from the Legislature to the 2009 fiscal year budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.
He said he could not guarantee staffing at the university would be protected next year.
“Eighty-four percent of the state budget (to UA) is for personnel,” he said. “I can’t say there won’t be any layoffs.”
Some estimates are that the universities will have at least a 10 percent cut to their overall budgets next year, but Rep. Jennifer Burns R-Tucson, said she didn’t think the cuts would be that drastic.
“We’re facing a tough budget situation, true, but there are people in key positions in the Legislature whose votes count who support education,” said Burns, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee. “We can’t hold the universities harmless, but I don’t suspect it will be a 10 percent cut.”
In other business Friday, the regents approved UA’s request to complete its plans to replace its suite of administrative computer applications, which include student, payroll and staffing data.
The proposal would cost $90 million in its first 5 years, and $9 million to maintain every year after that. thereafter.