Emory Report
February 9, 2009
Volume 61, Number 19



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February 9
, 2009
Emory, Oxford colleges restructure budgets

By nancy seideman

Emory’s two largest undergraduate divisions, the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Oxford College, are cutting administrative expenditures this year and next to allow them to meet their highest strategic priorities including selective faculty hiring and Emory’s ongoing commitment to need-blind admissions and providing the demonstrated financial need for continuing students.

Unrestricted operating budgets in both schools are projected to remain essentially flat (Oxford College), or rise slightly (currently $6 million at Emory College) even after the budget readjustments that are now being communicated to the college communities. No full-time faculty positions are affected in either school. The overall University budget currently is projected to slow to a 1.6 percent growth rate next year.

In line with President Jim Wagner’s Jan. 22 letter to the Emory community, in which he stated that, “we must take account of these new economic realities and adjust accordingly in order to pursue the leadership to which we are called,” the deans worked with advisory committees of senior faculty and staff within their respective schools to balance their budgets in the face of reduced endowment income and increased financial aid requirements.

Each school within the University is responsible for developing and implementing its own budget reflecting differing proportions of endowment income, tuition, sponsored research, philanthropy and other sources.

Although considerable reductions were made in non-personnel budgets at both Emory and Oxford colleges, further action was required to close budget gaps while maintaining excellence. After extensive consultation within the school’s leadership, and with Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Earl Lewis, the College deans sent letters to their respective communities outlining the decision-making process that resulted in the following steps:

Oxford College: Five full-time and four part-time staff positions will be eliminated and four temporary or vacant staff positions will be phased out. Effective dates for these transitions have been staggered from December 2008 through July 2009. In each case the related offices or functions are being reorganized to produce greater efficiency. No faculty positions will be eliminated or reduced although the College will reduce expenditures related to adjunct faculty.

“These are truly difficult times,” wrote Oxford College Dean Steve Bowen in a Feb. 1 community letter. “None of us has experience in dealing with the kinds of changes that continue to confront us daily. Given the best projections available, we believe that we have worked out budget plans for FY10, FY11 and FY12 that will continue to provide strong support for our students’ educations in the near term and for Oxford’s continued growth and evolution in the long term.”

Emory College: A drop in endowment income, along with rapidly escalating costs of student aid, required the College to make about $7 million worth of cuts this year and next. Planned budget reductions include:

• Cutting non-personnel budgets by $2 million throughout the College, including the College central administration office

• Reducing the temporary faculty budget by about $2 million

• Closing the Institute of Critical International Studies; Center for the Study of Public Scholarship; and Center for Health, Culture and Society

• Scaling back the Center for Teaching and Curriculum; Emory College Center for Science Education; and Faculty Science Council

• Transferring the Office of University-Community Part-nerships to the provost’s office.

Center and institute activities directly related to the College’s curriculum will be reassigned to existing College departments and programs. A total of 13.5 full-time equivalent staff positions will be eliminated; effective dates for these transitions are staggered from now through March 31 as the centers and institutes fulfill programming commitments and transfer certain activities to other areas. According to Emory College Dean Bobby Paul, the College does not anticipate further closings this academic year.

A University Human Resources team is working closely with affected staff and their managers, as well as the unit’s human resource staff during this transition period to ensure that employees have access to current job openings on campus, guidance regarding all benefits issues, support from the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, and help with job recruitment opportunities.

In their letters, Bowen and Paul outlined the principles that guide their school’s decision-making, including a commitment to a high quality educational experience for students and providing access to an Emory and Oxford education. The deans discussed how the College communities will continue to work to streamline processes and adjust administrative structures to make the best use of resources.

“I share President Wagner’s confidence that Emory has the courage and creativity to surmount the challenges of this ‘economic climate change.’ We can and will use our collective energy and intellect to think creatively about the future of Emory College and of liberal arts education in general,” wrote Paul. “I hope we can use this time to begin to build the College of the 21st century, the place where students become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Paul and Bowen also talked about investments that are being made to forward the schools’ strategic priorities. For example Paul noted in a Feb. 6 community letter, “We will continue to hire faculty strategically, though at a much slower pace. Seven of the 22 searches we approved last spring are continuing, all of which can be funded through sources outside of the regular College budget.”

As the University’s individual schools work through their budget planning activities, University Administration has reduced several budgets and imposed a zero percent budget cap on all others with the exception of the funding required for Campaign Emory. There will be no new administrative positions or expenditures approved without corresponding reductions elsewhere in the administrative budgets.

Lewis says that the Ways and Means Committee is “committed to transparency and information-sharing across the University regarding fiscal matters, and will continue to communicate this information as we move forward. As we look around the landscape of higher education and observe the painful choices being made on almost every campus, we have to conclude that Emory continues to be in a relatively favored position as we consider how to grow and shape the Emory University of 2015.”