Last Monday, Oct. 31, I mentioned in a university-wide leadership town hall that we had begun studying the state’s fiscal reports to predict what impacts we might face at the university due to recent state revenue forecasts being lowered for the current fiscal year (2017) and the coming next biennium (2018-19).
This escalated over the past week following discussions with Governor Ricketts and legislative leadership. President Bounds and my fellow chancellors from the university system spent considerable time in the past several days to further our analysis and decision-making moving forward.
One decision, clarified this morning, is a University of Nebraska system-wide hiring freeze. This applies to all positions that are funded in any part by state-aided (tax or tuition) budget. We will be working with the deans and directors of all programs across campus to clarify the process and procedures for the hiring freeze beginning with a meeting with the upper administration leadership tomorrow morning.
While the budget issues ahead are certainly significant, we will address them confidently, efficiently, and appropriately while fiercely protecting our core academic mission. We have been conducting a thorough review of expenses (operations, travel, purchasing) since the beginning of this fiscal year to precisely understand where we may be able to reduce costs. As always, we will conduct our business in the most efficient and effective manner to ensure we are the best possible stewards of all of our funding, whatever the source. While funding from the State of Nebraska is less than a quarter of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s budget, we clearly rely on those dollars in carrying out our mission, particularly since 80% of our state appropriation is directed for salaries and benefits in support of our talented faculty and staff.
As we move forward over the next weeks and months, we will continue to communicate openly about ways we may be further accountable for addressing a possible shortfall in state funding. We will need to be diligent in reviewing our activities and operations, and we will need to be creative and innovative as we continue to grow. I’m very confident that our university is up for this challenge, and that we will continue our work in building and growing Nebraska to unprecedented levels.
Thanks for all that you do and best wishes for a great remainder of the semester.