Governor's Budget Proposal Asks U.Va. for Further Cuts

December 17, 2008

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December 18, 2008 — Gov. Timothy Kaine's budget proposal, released Wednesday, contained more tough news for the University of Virginia.

The proposal, which will be taken up by the General Assembly in January, asks the University to cut another $12.4 million from its 2009-2010 budget, on top of the $10.6 million reduction to the 2008-2009 budget that was taken in October.

If the General Assembly approves the proposal in its present form, spending will be reduced by a total of $23 million, or 15 percent of the state's $160 million allocation to the University's $2 billion budget.

The cuts will be painful, Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Wednesday. However, he emphasized, the University remains committed to meeting its full obligation to AccessUVA and to protecting jobs.

"We're experiencing rapidly changing conditions, and we can't project the future," he said. "We do not have layoffs in our plan based on what we know today."

Following are excerpts of his comments Wednesday to reporters.

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We are seeing many of the same financial stresses that are being experienced by businesses and institutions throughout the country.  As Gov. Kaine pointed out, even though Virginia's economy is outperforming national trends, we are definitely feeling the effects of the national downturn that will likely continue throughout 2009.

These new state reductions and the general downturn in the economy require that we examine every aspect of our operations.

We have adopted an aggressive strategy of taking early, important steps to reduce spending.  We are hopeful that we have positioned ourselves well to emerge a stronger institution.

We currently are doubling our efforts to improve efficiency through consolidation of units where appropriate, deferral of discretionary expenses and reduction of our workforce through attrition.

Efforts to protect our employees — and to prevent layoffs — will lead to asking our existing staff to take on different and expanded duties in some cases. There are many variables to watch in planning and we are only able to predict with certainty quarter by quarter.

This is the first time since the inception of the Eminent Scholars program in the 1960s that the state has not provided any support for the eminent scholars program, leaving the full burden to funds provided by private donors.

The economic stresses come at the same time when utility costs are rising dramatically —  electricity itself has risen some 20 percent here at the University — and increasing numbers of students and their families will be seeking financial aid.

Despite the additional cuts announced by the governor this morning, the University remains committed to fully funding AccessUVA, our financial aid program, and meeting 100 percent of our students' financial aid needs.

Some of our classes will be larger and it will be a challenge to maintain our normal level of services in many areas. We will defer some maintenance of our buildings and grounds and we will limit our travel.

At the same time we are seeing revenues decline in some areas. We are working hard to develop new sources of revenues so we can invest in the future of the institution, conduct research and provide essential services to students and patients who depend on us.

During periods such as this, we place emphasis on the efficiency of our operations and the quality of our work. We focus on our academic and health care priorities and we build on our strengths. We are relentless in our commitment to fiscal prudence in all that we do.  And we rely on the dedication of our staff and faculty who are dealing with larger workloads at a time when it is not possible to provide regular salary increases.

We intend to emerge from this period as a better university and one that is stronger relative to our peers.

However, it will not be easy. We have done this before and know we have the resolve as we continue to make decisions that position us well for the future.