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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Program Prioritization Update

Dear Campus Community:

I am sending you budget and program prioritization updates in preparation for our Town Hall meeting, Monday, February 24, at 3:30 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom. The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity for the campus to come together and explore how we will collaborate on solutions to the challenges we face.

Some faculty, staff, students and administrators have expressed varying degrees and types of frustration about UMD's budget challenge and program prioritization. I have to admit, I have also been frustrated over the past few weeks and months. This is difficult work, and I am absolutely confident that we are more than capable of rising above the frustrations and challenges if we work together and keenly focus on what is best for our students.

I know it is tempting to cast blame on others for these challenges. I've been tempted to do so myself, especially for decisions that were made prior to me coming to UMD. But it is clear this route will do us no good. Instead, we must focus on dealing with the present and in establishing a strong foundation for the future. I accept responsibility for my own actions and for the welfare of UMD as we move forward to even greater accomplishments.

There were several positive outcomes from our meetings with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and his budget staff last Monday at UMD. Clearly, UMD is a jewel in the crown of the University of Minnesota system and they are as committed as we are to advancing our distinctive mission and vision and to keeping UMD strong.

In preparation for this Monday's meeting, I am sending you the latest information regarding UMD's budget and program prioritization. I encourage you to look at this information prior to the meeting and be ready to ask questions and make comments.

The latest facts regarding our budget target are these:
• Over the past few months, UMD's finance staff and representatives of the Twin Cities budget office have collaborated on a thorough analysis of UMD's fiscal year 2014 budget, including both recurring and non-recurring revenues and expenditures.
• This process was completed last Friday, and we now have confidence in establishing an updated budget target of $9.4 million.
• As I indicated last fall, we also have a non-recurring deficit. We have taken steps to reduce that deficit, and it now stands at $3.3 million.
• We will address this budget challenge through a combination of cost reductions, revenue increases, and collaborations with the Twin Cities senior leadership.
• We will NOT just cut from our recurring budget, and we do NOT have to reach this budget target in just one year. President Kaler and his team are strong partners with us and they are helping us develop successful strategies.

The latest facts regarding program prioritization are these:
• Program prioritization is just one of several tools to help us address our budget challenges.
• There are potential benefits from program prioritization that will help increase efficiency, cut administrative costs, and keep our focus on excellence and our core mission. We will do a number of things differently to achieve these benefits. We will implement changes in ways that focus on what we do best and how we can position UMD to become stronger and achieve new heights of excellence.
• The latest program prioritization results are attached.
• As you examine the proposed changes in this document, you will see that IF we implement all of the items suggested, we will reduce expenses across units by $2.5 million and increase revenues by nearly $700,000.
• I emphasize that the program prioritization results are in draft form and for discussion purposes only. Final decisions (not impacted by voluntary layoff) will not be made until the campus has the opportunity to discuss the proposed changes.

Thank you again for your commitment to UMD and your hard work on behalf of our students. I am committed to more frequent and direct communications with the campus community, and will try to keep them succinct. However, at this point, I would rather share too much information with you than not enough. It is important that we are all working off the same set of facts.

Best wishes,

Chancellor Black
Chancellor's Office
University of Minnesota Duluth
515 Darland Administration Building
1049 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812
218.726.6535 (fax)

DRAFT Program Prioritization Strategies February 20 2014-3.pdf