Mason Administrators Outline Budget-Cutting Strategies for Current Fiscal Year

Posted: October 15, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

“The budget cuts we are now facing are a challenge, but we should all remember that they will not deter us from continuing to move forward on our institutional priorities and initiatives,” Senior Vice President Morrie Scherrens said yesterday at the university community’s public meeting on the budget cuts facing Mason and other state agencies as a result of Virginia’s severe revenue shortfall.

Approximately 125 faculty and staff members attended the briefing, which was teleconferenced to the Arlington and Prince William Campuses, to hear Scherrens and Provost Peter Stearns discuss Mason’s strategies for dealing with an immediate and permanent $9.8 million budget reduction for the current fiscal year.

From an administrative standpoint, the university will reduce its institutional reserve, eliminate funding for supplemental salary increases, and seek extra support from such sources as auxiliary enterprises. On a departmental level, units across campus will be asked to reduce their budgets by up to 2 percent. Scherrens noted that the units will not be mandated on how or where to make their cuts.

Other points made during the presentation were:

  • As individual units look to make their cuts, it is possible that they may choose to reorganize and, as a result, could eliminate positions.

  • The 2 percent salary raise for faculty and staff set to take effect in November will be deferred until July 2009.

  • Additional cuts are anticipated for the 2010 fiscal year. Mason does not expect to hear what these cuts might be until mid-December, when the governor releases his budget plan.

  • The university’s many capital construction projects currently under way are funded separately through revenue bonds and are not affected by general fund budget cuts. However, the state has said that all maintenance and operating funds for three academic buildings now under construction, Academic V and Academic VI on the Fairfax Campus and Arlington II at the Arlington Campus, must come from the university’s general fund when they are completed.

  • Mason will not raise tuition in this current fiscal year. However, Scherrens and Stearns said they anticipate the university will move forward with a tuition increase for the 2010 fiscal year sometime in spring 2009. A decision will be made at that time on the size of the increase.

This is the sixth major budget cut Mason has experienced since 1984.

Both Scherrens and Stearns pledged to keep the university community informed of any new information or directives that come from the governor’s office. In the meantime, they urged faculty and staff to send budget-related questions they may have to either one of their offices should they wish additional information.

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