UH put on fiscal diet
The UH Board of Regents approved a $1.36 billion budget in its quarterly meeting, which highlights a decrease in operating expenses, as the school system is forced to cope with state funding cuts for the 2012 fiscal year.
The budget, which will take effect Sept. 1, will cut 345 jobs in operations, support organizations and campus facilities. Faculty salaries were also reduced.
UH Associate Vice President and Vice Chancellor for Finance Tom Ehardt emphasized the impact the state budget has had compared to previous years.
“Twenty years ago, state allocations accounted for about half of our operating budget,” Ehardt said.
“In fiscal year 2012, it accounted for just 25 percent of the operating budget.”
A tuition increase announced in June also played a part in increasing the school’s revenue for the upcoming year, consisting of a 3.95 percent increase for 12 credit hour course loads, a 4.95 percent increase for students taking nine hours, and a 9 percent increase overall for professional students in optometry and pharmacy.
To counter this, the budget will include a $9.9 million increase in financial aid, making it a total of $66 million.
Regents sought to reduce the University’s operating expense costs per credit hour taken by students as well. The new budget reveals a 5 percent decrease in this area, from $510 per hour to $486.
The elimination of over 300 jobs was achieved through layoffs, retirement and retraction of unfilled positions. The cuts claimed 23 faculty positions, 183 professional and support staff positions, 28 positions in University Advancement and Information Technology and 11 maintenance positions.
Despite the job cuts, the school still plans to add 52 faculty positions and 41 professional and support staff positions with an additional $5 million added to what Regents list as “priority academic programs.”
The goals stated in the budget were to protect instruction and financial aid, reshape the workforce to give priority to positions that directly serve students, reduce operational costs and eliminate faculty salary increases.
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost John Antel said that hiring new faculty will support increased student enrollments in various programs, and that hiring will occur in the University’s priority programs like energy, health and student success.
UHS Board of Regents Chairwoman Carroll Robertson Ray believes the budget was a success.
“I am very appreciative of the hard work of everyone who weighed in and worked on the budget,” Ray said. “This budget preserves what’s important for us and ensures student success while being fiscally responsible during this difficult economic period.”