Campus developing plans for budget cuts

Facing some of the largest budget cuts in university history, Tennessee Tech University president Bob Bell met with his Budget Advisory Committee Monday and outlined plans to begin identifying reductions campus wide.

"The wolf is at the door, and unlike years past, this wolf is going to come in and eat lunch," said Bell as he outlined directives from the Tennessee Board of Regents.

On Jan. 30, higher education leaders statewide were told to prepare for budget cuts amounting to 2.5 - 5% from this year's budget and to expect as much as an 8.8% permanent reduction beginning July 1. That would amount to $100 million in cuts next year for schools in the TBR and University of Tennessee systems.

For TTU, that means reductions ranging from $1.1 million to $2.2 million in current fiscal year expenditures and a permanent budget reduction of $3.8 million in the next fiscal year (beginning July 1). The first draft of TTU's plans for this year's budget impoundment is due to the TBR by Feb. 18. The document outlining budget cuts for 2003-04 is expected by March 4.

While the reductions from this year's budget can be made with one-time funds, next year's cuts must be permanent. Campuses also should not plan to offset cuts with student fee increases, according to the TBR.

"We have some very difficult decisions to make and not much time to make them," Bell said. "This is not going to be a normal year. We are going to make some severe budget cuts, and we'll be focusing on our core mission."

Bell stressed that the university will protect its primary mission of teaching and providing high quality academic programs for students. A larger percentage of the reductions will come from other areas.

Meantime, state officials have already said the $250,000 special allocation from the governor for the Appalachian Center for Craft will be cut, as will 8.8% of the budgets for the Centers of Excellence.

Bell charged the Athletics Department and vice presidents of all units except Academic Affairs to begin developing budget cut scenarios up to 15%. While the academic programs will not be spared from the cuts, Bell said he would try to keep them as low as possible.

The Budget Advisory Committee will meet again Friday morning to review the reduction scenarios and finalize a plan to submit to TBR.

Those attending Monday's meeting included Marvin Barker, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Terry Rector, vice president of Business and Fiscal Affairs; Linda Maxwell, Financial Services director; Paul Isbell, vice president for University Advancement; Mike Hennigan, interim Athletics director; Diane Ledbetter, Athletics representative; Deanna Metts, Internal Audit director; Marc Burnett, vice president for Student Affairs; Mark Stephens, Faculty Senate president; Jeff Roberts, faculty representative; Paul Semmes, faculty representative; Sue Pogue, Human Resources director; Rebecca Tolbert, associate vice president for Enrollment Management; and Leo McGee, associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

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