Letter from Chancellor about First Round of Proposed 2010 Reductions

Dear Colleagues:

As you know from a previous e-mail to you, we are working to reduce UNL's budget by $5.2 million this spring as a part of the reductions we will be required to make over the next year.

I am writing today to outline the first round of proposed reductions, totaling $3,558,000.

The first reduction will eliminate the Communications and Information Technology unit in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources for a savings of $1.4 million for FY 2011. IANR would affiliate its communications and information technology services more closely with those offered by University Communications and UNL's Information Services Department. Agreements are in the works to enhance services, avoid duplication and to ensure that the special needs of IANR, its audiences and its statewide operations, will continue to be met. Services currently provided by CIT that support the development and delivery of educational content to UNL Extension and other units will be reassigned and preserved.

Remaining CIT resources will be used to formulate a new curriculum to give students across the university an opportunity to understand critical issues facing food production, both in Nebraska and around the world. This curriculum will form the foundation for a collaboration with NET Television, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts to focus on producing journalism graduates better equipped to report on agriculture. The goal is to increase public understanding of the nature of agriculture and how it serves society. Seed funds will be available to encourage IANR faculty to contribute to the development and teaching of this new curriculum. On-line versions of the curriculum will be explored as a potential new revenue-producing enterprise.

This new curriculum will also be available to the general student body of the university to explore issues of food production for a hungry world. There is no issue more important facing the world than providing food for growing populations, particularly in the developing world. This not only has economic ramifications, but also national security implications for our nation. The National Research Council recently called on Colleges of Agriculture to provide such instruction and I am pleased that our College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will be among the first to do so.

The second reduction being proposed today is a $2 million reduction in the funds available to the Office of Research. We have asked that office to assume, as part of the cost of research, the support for several electronic resources in the library. The money to cover this will come from the Facilities and Administration portion of our incoming grants and contracts. While this will restrain our ability to support research initiatives, the great success of our faculty in elevating our research makes this trade-off workable. Covering some library costs with F&A funding has become increasingly common among universities across the nation.

The third cut eliminates all state funds allocated for the support of the Lentz Center for Asian Culture saving $73,000. A total of 1.65 FTE positions will be cut. There are private endowment funds with which to preserve the collection, and the contents of the collection will be digitized and available online. The Lentz Center will no longer be open on a regular basis although there will be occasional exhibits of the collection and related objects by guest curators. The collection will remain accessible to the university community for study and teaching purposes. In collaboration with faculty and staff on campus, my office is working on a plan that will provide specifics and will be in place by July 1st. The current director of the Lentz Center has decided to retire and the other position is vacant.

The final cut being proposed today is the elimination of one associate vice chancellor position in the Office of Academic Affairs, for a reduction of $80,000. Two remaining associates and one assistant will absorb the work formerly performed by this third associate vice chancellor.

The spreadsheet associated with these reductions is available for download.

The cuts proposed today do not meet the total targeted cut of $5.2 million for this spring, but this is a good start on addressing this critical issue. I don't pretend this will be easy, and I ask that you join me in doing all we can to help the staff members most directly affected by the reductions.

Thanks to each of you for all you do to continue the upward momentum of this university despite the tough economy and resulting reductions.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have comments, questions or ideas for new ways to use our limited resources more efficiently.