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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Budget update and task force recommendation

Dear Campus Community:

The Faculty Academic Restructuring Task Force has submitted their recommendations and provided me valuable input and perspectives. This was a time-intensive and critical project positioned at the end of the semester. I want to sincerely thank this group of dedicated faculty for their expertise and input. I am pleased this group has agreed to continue serving in an advisory capacity. See a list of  task force members.

I have reviewed the task force's written recommendations and met with the group to gain additional input. Their recommendations provide a great framework for us to move forward with implementation of the  budget strategies shared with the campus earlier this semester.

My initial response to the Faculty Academic Restructuring Task Force report  includes the following highlights:

  • Any potential academic restructuring must be guided by academic and strategic priorities. We should implement incremental, multi-step processes for achieving targeted expense reductions.

  • The first process should be academic program and course optimization. This process needs to be based upon previously collected and updated program prioritization data and well-defined objective metrics. This process should become part of regular and on-going continuous improvement activities.

  • A second process will proceed from program optimization and explore restructuring within colleges and schools which may result in combining departments, rearranging staff support, reassigning faculty, etc. If necessary, this could continue into a process of restructuring across colleges and schools. Different models for potential restructuring of colleges and schools will be examined.

  • A third and interrelated process is the examination of administrative activities that support academic units and programs. The task force recommended five areas that might be considered which involve campus-wide functions that also support academic units. This list will be refined as we move forward. Some examination of these areas is already occurring. The Staff Restructuring Task Force will continue their work this summer examining administrative efficiencies with these recommendations in mind.

  • The suggested timeline is to complete academic program optimization by the end of July and we will strive for that goal. However, the transition with our EVCAA position may require flexibility in the schedule.

  • The task force provides several good points and suggestions regarding improved communication about our budget and the budget reduction processes. There is also a need to have greater clarity about the University of Minnesota budget allocation process. We need to address the confusion about the causes of the budget deficit and about how it has been impacted by allocations of state funds.

When I receive the Fiscal Year 2017 budget allocations from the University of Minnesota, I will:
  • Communicate the details our our allocation
  • Review the key facts about UMD's budget deficit over the past five years, and
  • Explain how this deficit relates to our tuition revenues and state funding.
In addition, I will keep the campus informed each step of the way as we implement budget reduction strategies.

Again, thank you to the members of the faculty task force for your thorough and insightful work. The staff task force will be working over the summer and will receive input from the faculty group.

Please let me know what questions you may have and what other information you may need.

I hope to see many of you at Saturday's commencement exercises as we celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of our students.

Best wishes,

Lendley Black