Proposed academic budget cuts at the University of Toledo would touch every college on the university’s two campuses.
Administrators have proposed between $14 million and $17 million in cuts to UT academic programs, according to a memo sent recently to college deans. Those cuts are meant to close a projected budget deficit in fiscal year 2014 of more than $30 million.
While UT officials have said for months that reductions are coming, the memo makes it more clear how the budgets of individual colleges will fare. Cuts would be implemented by July 1, the beginning of UT’s fiscal year.
The cuts to academics are sure to cause angst among faculty, a group already at odds with President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, judging from a recent performance review of Dr. Jacobs.
Scott Scarborough, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said academic budget reductions are a “last resort” for universities, but that UT, like many other higher education institutions, faces outside budget pressures that necessitate the cuts.
“These kinds of things that higher education is going through ... this isn’t fun anywhere,” he said. “But it’s what everyone is having to do.”
The “budget-reduction targets” include about $4 million in savings from a previously proposed reduction in the use of adjuncts and a corresponding teaching load increase for full-time faculty, Mr. Scarborough said.
About $10.5 million in cuts would come from colleges at UT’s main campus. The college of engineering is facing the largest proposed reduction, with a loss of $1.8 million. The college of natural sciences and mathematics has the second-largest target of $1.7 million. Both the colleges of law and business and innovation are projected to have their budgets reduced by more than $1 million each.
Reduction targets for the Health Science Campus, the former Medical College of Ohio, range from a low of $3.3 million to as much as $6.4 million. The college of medicine and life sciences could potentially receive the largest cut at UT, with a reduction target between $1.5 and $3 million.
Reductions would be made to UT’s libraries, registrar’s office, student affairs, and other programs.
The university began its budgeting process in October, with administration reviewing initial budget requests by colleges. Budget-redesign committees then developed area targets for each college, Mr. Scarborough said. Mr. Scarborough said that some of the reductions would be from proposed increases, so would not in all cases be true cuts.
Beyond the reduction in adjuncts, about two dozen full-time positions would be reduced through attrition. Mr. Scarborough also estimated a reduction in about a dozen visiting-professor positions.
The proposed cuts are revealed as a recently completed review of Dr. Jacobs by UT’s Faculty Senate show a frayed relationship between faculty and administration.
Overall, faculty gave Dr. Jacobs a combined rating of 2.21 out of 5, placing him in the “needs improvement” range. Out of 11 categories, some of his lowest scores were in financial management.
Linda Marie Rouillard, president of UT’s Faculty Senate, said she was surprised by some of the ratings and comments in the review. While there’s a natural tension between administration and faculty, Ms. Rouillard said the evaluation showed how much the faculty members think Dr. Jacobs is leading the university down an “illogical and not financially sound” path.
“If Dr. Jacobs is such a great leader, why are we faced with year after year of budget shortfalls?” Ms. Rouillard said. “It’s not just the economy.”
Among faculty concerns is a perception that academics have been cut while the administration hasn’t been. Mr. Scarborough said that since 2009, the administrative budget has been reduced by $10.9 million, while academic budgets have only been reduced by $200,000.
Those cuts are net reductions; the university cut about $11 million in academic budgets over that time but added $10.8 million in other parts of the academic budget, Mr. Scarborough said. Another round of administrative cuts is being considered.
Board of Trustees Chairman William Koester pointed to falling enrollment paired with a reduction in federal and state funding as reasons that UT needed to reduce its budget. The board has decided not to reduce its projected deficit by raising tuition.
Dr. Jacobs’ contract was extended in 2011 to run through June 30, 2016, so the board won’t make decisions about his employment anytime soon. When the board does his next evaluation, Mr. Koester said he would consider the faculty review, though he noted that it isn’t unusual for faculty to hold a certain animus toward a university president.
He said he was disappointed by what he considered were some “petty” comments and personal attacks left by some faculty members.
“I have great respect for Dr. Jacobs,” Mr. Koester said. “I think he is doing an extremely difficult job under very tough conditions.”
The budget likely is to be presented to the board of trustees’ finance committee in May, with a final budget presented to the full board in June.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.
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