USM looking to slash budget

by Wally Northway

Published: August 11,2009

Tags: higher education, recession, state budget

HATTIESBURG — University of Southern Mississippi (USM) officials are reviewing budget cuts proposed by a campus-wide committee, as well as identifying additional areas for reductions, to lower spending by $11-$12 million for fiscal year 2011.

The proposed spending reductions are in response to an anticipated shortfall in state appropriations and general cost increases. The university’s Academic Planning Group (APG), under the leadership of USM provost Bob Lyman, has been working since last fall to study budget-related issues and how the university can address those.

“We have never witnessed economic conditions like the ones we face today, which necessitate that we make hard choices,” said USM president Martha Saunders. “We are in the early stages of a thoughtful, strategic process in which meeting student needs will be our top concern, while finding efficiencies without jeopardizing growth.”

The university plans to reduce spending in the academic area of the university by approximately $7.5 million, and examine non-academic areas for the remaining amount.

The process is moving forward now as the university is obligated by law to inform tenure-track faculty a year in advance if their positions are eliminated. Decisions on program deletions will be made by Sept. 1, according to Lyman. In the event of program cuts, the university will make accommodations to allow students enrolled in those programs to complete their degrees.

The APG assessed recommendations for cuts from each of the university’s five degree-granting colleges, as well as other academic support units, in order to meet the university’s spending reduction goal. Those recommendations were based on a variety of criteria, including enrollment, centrality or uniqueness to the mission of the university, impact on students and university operations and if positions could be expended while maintaining program delivery, among others.

Administrators from all non-academic support service divisions were also charged with submitting proposals for cuts in their areas, as well.

Proposed spending cuts include elimination of degree programs and unfilled positions, reduction and elimination of travel budgets and designating other programs to be self-supporting, among other recommendations.

To view the entire proposal, visit usm.edu/provost/budget_planning/USMBudgetReductionRecs.pdf.

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