Knapp addresses campus-wide budget cuts in memo to community

University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to the University community Monday addressing the cause behind the 5 percent budget cuts faced by nearly all of GW's divisions. Hatchet file photo.
University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to the University community Monday addressing the cause behind the 5 percent budget cuts faced by nearly all of GW’s divisions. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to GW community members on Monday, explaining that 5 percent budget cuts across campus stem from a decrease in graduate enrollment.

Knapp wrote that tuition revenue makes up nearly 75 percent of the University’s total revenue, and that graduate and professional enrollment have dropped by about 1,200 students. To make up for those drops, faculty and staff are planning new academic programs and cutting costs in divisions across the University.

The memo echoes a Hatchet report published early Monday morning. Knapp’s statement is one of the first and clearest examples of him addressing the University-wide budget crunch.

“But such efforts take time to achieve their intended results. We will need to continue reducing expenditures until enrollments are restored at least to the level we enjoyed just a few years ago,” Knapp wrote.

Knapp’s memo was sent after Provost Steven Lerman said Friday during an interview with the Hatchet that the budget crunch has delayed the implementation of some areas laid out in the University’s strategic plan. While net graduate enrollment decreased by five students this year, the total credit hours that graduate students are enrolled in increased by 344 hours, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

Graduate students pay tuition by credit hour in most of the University’s graduate programs.

Lerman said last week that divisions have cut back on travel and training costs. Knapp said in the memo that divisions could have to cut staff positions to reduce their budgets by 5 percent next year.

“We will not be cutting undergraduate student aid, abandoning our fixed tuition policy or backing away from our commitment to expand student health and career services,” he said.

This is the second year that officials have asked departments to cut back on costs, after graduate enrollments first began declining last year. During the last fiscal year, the University missed its revenue projections by about $10 million, and also had about $10 million more in expenses than planned.

Knapp added that deans and directors of schools and colleges will need to preserve or rebuild “the reserves they need to invest in their strategic priorities.”

“It is critically important that we not allow our current budgetary problem to prevent us from continuing to fulfill our mission or from realizing the aspirations embodied in our strategic plan,” he said.

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