04/07/11 Letter from Chancellor Perlman - FY2012 Budget Reduction Process

April 14, 2011


This is the type of news I never like having to deliver to you. As I made you aware in an email last week, UNL is now called upon to reduce its budget. While the Legislature's budget proposal calls for no reductions in our state funding over the course of the next two years---and as I've said before, that is a very encouraging sign---we still need to address increasing expenses. The longer we delay making the reductions the more costly it becomes to cash-flow the transitions in programs. Thus I am proposing cuts totaling $5 million now with the understanding we will need additional reductions in the fall.

The proposed cuts include:

  • eliminating the master's degree program in Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences, shifting existing faculty resources to the undergraduate program;
  • eliminating the K-12 Art Education teaching endorsement program in the College of Education and Human Sciences;
  • closing the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering, eliminating most of the undergraduate and graduate majors in the department, but retaining the tenured faculty and the specialization in the Master of Engineering program;
  • eliminating the undergraduate and graduate degree emphasis in Organ in the School of Music, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts;
  • restructuring Academic Affairs to incorporate the administrative functions now carried out by the Office of Undergraduate Studies; this reduction includes eliminating the Dean of Undergraduate Studies administrative position;
  • restructuring Admissions recruitment, eliminating three positions, of which two are vacant;
  • moving IANR's Educational Media personnel off of state funding to a self-funded model;
  • closing and razing University Terrace and relocating existing occupants;
  • discontinuing printing the class schedule; the document would be available in electronic formatting only;
  • reducing the frequency of on-campus mail delivery from five days a week to every other day.

The reduction proposals would eliminate two pre-tenured faculty positions that are currently filled, 15 unfilled tenure-track faculty positions, 2 FTE filled non-tenure-track positions and 2 FTE vacant non-tenure-track positions. Additionally, 1.8 filled staff positions and 34.03 FTE vacant staff positions would be cut as well.

This includes 14.0 FTE retired faculty (Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, or VSIP) positions.

The serious impact of this reduction is the loss of approximately 56 course sections per year that will have to be absorbed by existing faculty. This also means a loss of student mentoring and advising capacity. These unfilled positions represent a significant loss of future curriculum enhancements, teaching innovations and research productivity. These reductions will be allocated across the academic affairs colleges in accordance with future strategic planning priorities at the college and campus levels.

Background documents on the proposed budget reductions with more details and the budget framework are available on the UNL website.

The proposals now go to the Academic Planning Committee. The APC will hold hearings on the proposals and make recommendations back to me during the next couple of months.

I anticipate making final determinations on these reductions sometime in June, after taking into consideration the recommendations of the committee. I will let you know as soon as decisions have been made.

As I have said before, cutting our way to greatness is not a recipe for success. I fully recognize that these proposals take the university in the wrong direction toward the vision of becoming a top-ranked national university. Unfortunately, our available resources don't always match with what it will take to make our vision a reality. We continue to accomplish a great deal with increasingly limited resources, and I appreciate the courage and integrity it takes for all of you to stay focused. I fully recognize that, while we have tried to recommend cuts that do the least damage to our central focus on undergraduate education and research, it is damage nonetheless. To label it as anything else would be disingenuous.

Again, I am sorry to have to deliver this news. I am very proud of this university and the tremendous forward momentum that all of you have had a part in making a reality.