University’s FY 2007 budget may call for cuts to academics

Administrators are mulling a budget for the next fiscal year that would call for cuts in academic affairs expenses.

In the next two weeks, the University will announce final plans to bridge an $8.2 million gap between revenue and expenses for the next University budget, which goes into effect in July, said Louis Katz, executive vice president and treasurer. Katz, who called it “the largest gap, by memory, that I’m aware of,” said the University must present a final budget proposal to the Board of Trustees at its next meeting May 19. GW’s budget for the next fiscal year is $360 million, according to a Faculty Senate resolution.

“We’re trying to impact students as little as possible, but to say there will be no impact is impossible,” Katz said. “There are always implications.”

The budget gap is caused by an imbalance between expense and revenue growth, with expenses increasing about 5 percent and revenue growing about 2 percent, Katz said.

No final decisions have been announced yet, but Katz said cuts to administrative and capital spending expenses “are definite” and that the University wants to minimize any cuts to academics as much as possible.

Earlier this year, the administration shared its initial budget proposal with the Faculty Senate, which then created its own proposed version. William Griffith, chair of the Faculty Senate’s Fiscal Planning and Budgeting Committee and chair of the Philosophy Department, said the administration’s budget proposal asks deans of each of the University’s colleges to plan how they would make cuts “if it came to that.”

Griffith said deans were advised not to make potential cuts that would affect each of their school’s departments equally, and instead were advised to use discretion and make strategically advised to use discretion and make strategically selective cuts.

Katz said the University is still finalizing how it will respond to the budget proposal that the Faculty Senate announced at its April 12 meeting. The proposal called for zero reductions in academic programs.

“Even within academics, each department can cut back something, but we should not be cutting faculty, we can’t afford to cut faculty;” Griffith said.

The Faculty Senate’s proposal suggests reducing capital spending expenses by $5 million, choosing not to address gaps in the budget for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, raising $3.2 million through increased net revenue from auxiliary services, and reducing student financial aid and administrative expenses. Capital funds are those allocated to renovations and construction.

Katz said he agrees with some and disagrees with other parts of the Faculty Senate’s proposal, but recognizes that the faculty took “a lot of University recommended structure and modified it” when developing its proposal.

“Our goal is to do what’s right for the institution and the students, and so far we’ve had very good budget hearings that show the faculty understand the administration and vice versa,” Katz said.

William Frawley, the outgoing dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, told The Hatchet in an e-mail that under the administration’s budget proposal, “support for full-time faculty activities, such as new faculty hires and research support, would experience the vast majority of the pullbacks.”

Frawley added that potential CCAS reductions are still in the planning stages but would affect a range of areas, including programs, staff personnel and full-time faculty activities if implemented.

Frawley said, “We are all hopeful that the budget gap can be resolved without very serious consequences and can be used positively to fine tune our curricula and programs.”

The Elliott School of International Affairs is “still considering” what cuts it would make if the University finalizes cuts to academic affairs, said Edward McCord, associate dean for management and planning of the Elliott School.

“No one likes cuts – students or faculty – but when you have a budget shortfall, cuts have to be made,” McCord said in an e-mail.

He added that Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman has been working with a group of deans and faculty to consider “all alternate options to meet the shortfall.”

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