Letter from the Chancelllor-UAS Strategic Budgeting Process
December 9, 2015
Dear UAS faculty and staff:
As Chancellor, I am writing to provide an update about our UAS strategic budgeting process and to encourage your active involvement in that process. As members of the UAS community and as Alaskans, we’re facing unprecedented budget challenges that require the best ideas and engagement of all.
The UA Board of Regents recently approved a budget which reflects funding necessary to sustain current operations, including fixed cost increases such as salaries and rising utility costs. It is very possible that the ultimate reductions in the UA system budget will be even greater. Governor Walker will be releasing his budget proposal later today, providing another important milestone in addressing the state’s budget challenges.
Anticipating likely additional reductions, UAS continues to develop a “contingency” budget based on our best estimations of what may emerge from the legislative process. At present, our projections for UAS are that this will translate into a $2.5M to $3M funding shortfall in FY17.
In responding to this challenge at UAS we need to be strategic—focusing on our mission, our strengths, and our strategic opportunities. This will include budget reductions but may also include new investments in selected priority areas. We are seeking to avoid simple across-the-board reductions. We are taking a critical look at all aspects of our operations, including academics, administrative services, and student services.
Initially, our planning efforts are focusing on:
• A budget exercise involving all faculty and staff to identify new revenues and necessary reductions
• Streamlining administrative processes to reduce costs (e.g. travel, hiring, purchasing)
• Reducing fixed costs through energy efficiency and reduction in debt-service payments
• Strengthening enrollment through innovative marketing and enrollment management
• Identifying areas for strategic program enhancements (e.g. undergraduate fisheries, maritime, the arts and humanities) and critical functions such as emergency management and title IX compliance
These and other efforts are currently underway in our schools and at our three campuses. Your involvement and your best ideas are needed. The UAS Strategic Planning and Budgeting Advisory Committee (SPBAC) continues to act as a vehicle for sharing information and soliciting input. The results of these efforts will be shared with the Board of Regents early in 2016. Each UAS campus director and executive has been provided guidance about this process, including an initial budget reduction target that begins this challenging strategic conversation. Leaders are expected to look holistically at their areas to identify new revenues as well as opportunities for reduction or possible eliminations.
For more information, I encourage you to visit the SPBAC web site (http://uas.alaska.edu/admin/spbac.html) as well as the UA Statewide budget site (https://www.alaska.edu/swbir/budget/).
Above all, it is important to remember that the quality of our institution is not measured in general fund revenues. While current budget pressures demand certain changes, what will not change is the value we deliver to our students and our state. UAS will continue to deliver an education which is valued by our graduates through academic excellence and exceptional service.
I invite your comments and your feedback.