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Administration’s request for budget ideas nets nearly 190; some being implemented

by John Drees, communications and marketing last modified Apr 03, 2012 01:14 PM

When University of Louisville President James Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz asked for suggestions to help trim the university’s budget, nearly 190 faculty, staff and students submitted ideas.

Kentucky is proposing another round of budget cuts to higher education for 2012-13, and administration went straight to the people who are in the trenches for ideas on how to cut costs, work more efficiently and generate revenue. Their suggestions and questions and answers are online.

“Our faculty, staff and students have come up with some good suggestions,” Ramsey said. “We are looking into many of the ideas they brought forth as we position ourselves for the future.”

Some suggestions, such as reviewing specific facilities for energy inefficiency, will be implemented as soon as possible. Others, such as changing administrative structures, offering employee furloughs and making significant changes to the retirement or insurance plans, must be studied further, said Mike Curtin, vice president for finance.

“We appreciate the suggestions, and we are looking at each one based on its merit,” Curtin said. “We have to make sure the benefit of the recommendation outweighs any negatives, such as reductions in service to our students, for instance. A recommendation that would allow us to cut costs or increase revenue while not adversely affecting our students, faculty or staff would be perfect.”

One such recommendation will be implemented this year. An employee recommended that the university stop bringing in new hires during the month of December.  The employee pointed out that the new employees are receiving paid time off for the winter break, some after working only a few days.  By postponing their start date to early January, the university avoids the cost of the leave.

“That’s a great idea that we can implement immediately,” Curtin said.

Ramsey stressed the importance of faculty, staff and student input during the budget process. Noting that UofL is facing its 12th state budget cut in as many years, he said the administration continues to look for new ways to increase income or reduce costs—a  process that gets tougher with each cut.

“The low-hanging fruit has already been picked,” he said.

Employees and students, he said, offer different perspectives and sometimes come up with ideas that lead to substantial change.

The university will discuss its proposed budget and seek more input from faculty, students and staff at open forums on Belknap Campus and at the Health Sciences Center in April. The schedule will be posted on UofL Today.

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