Budget cuts equal $8.3 million

William Dillon

To address recent state cuts and unexpected revenue shortages, ISU President Gregory Geoffroy announced a plan Monday to reduce the ISU budget by $8.3 million — money the university expected to have at the beginning of the school year and now must cut from its budget by June 30, 2004.

The $8.3 million cut is the result of Gov. Tom Vilsack’s 2.5 percent across-the-board cut announced Oct. 10 and an additional $2.5 million from shortfalls in tuition revenue and the costs of large research project contracts.

Geoffroy spread the cuts throughout the four areas of the ISU budget — the President’s Office, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Business and Finance. The vice presidents for these divisions are in charge of delegating the cuts.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Ben Allen said funding for student financial aid, the Office of Admissions and fuel and utilities will not be affected by the cuts.

Following a discussion with deans and the vice provost, Allen distributed $4.2 million worth of cuts to the colleges within the university, undergraduate programs, research administration, the office of the vice president and provost, the library, the Institute for Physical Research and Technology and the Plant Sciences Institute. Where the exact cuts come is now in the hands of the deans and heads of these programs. A Dec. 12 deadline was set for these areas to report their decisions to Allen, and ultimately the Board of Regents, for approval.

“They will hopefully go through their budgets very carefully,” Allen said. “The goal is to maintain as many classroom availabilities as possible.”

The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs will be eliminated. The programs under the office’s jurisdiction will be evaluated by the Office of the Provost and either brought under the provost’s jurisdiction, reassigned or eliminated.

“[It is] not that [these programs] don’t have value, but with this budget environment, we have to prioritize carefully,” he said.

Howard Shapiro, vice provost, will lose his position, but his tenure in mechanical engineering gives him the option to go back to full-time teaching and research, Allen said. The Graduate College will be merged from the Vice Provost for Research to the Office of the Provost where decisions regarding efficiency and positions will be evaluated.

Over the next three months, Allen, with the help of the deans, will consider areas and colleges that may be reorganized and possibly merged.

“We want to do it in a way to have both short-term benefits and long-term benefits; not just try to handle the budget situation right now,” Allen said.

As for faculty and staff layoffs, Geoffroy said they are inevitable.

“Given the budget cuts of this magnitude, I am certain there will be layoffs,” he said. “The units are all going to handle these budget cuts differently.”

Thomas Hill, vice president for Student Affairs, will delay filling three positions to handle his $246,000 portion of the cut. This will create more work, but the extra workload has been accepted openly by his staff, Hill said.

“Everybody just asks ‘How can we get it done?'” he said. “We have to make it work. We have no choice.”

Warren Madden, vice president for Business and Finance, has been working on delegating a $1.2 million cut to which he has included a $250,000 cut to the Iowa State Center, a $95,000 cut to University Museums and a $239,000 cut to WOI radio.

Ways in which the additional shortages will be made up include the reevaluation of the Treasurer’s Office and Accounting by possibly cutting positions, not filling vacant positions and moving to a more Web-based system to eliminate the amount of paperwork processed.

The President’s Office will cut $560,000 from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to handle the bulk of its $1.3 million budget cut. The additional $740,000 will be made up through a cutback on supplies and services, university relations and the temporary elimination of funds to retain faculty, said Mark Chidister, assistant to the president.

Geoffroy said the cuts being made will make the ISU budget less flexible.

“When we are in a budget situation like that and get a mid-year budget cut of 2.5 percent, it really just means that all flexibility is gone out of the budget,” Geoffroy said. “In order to deal with these budget reductions, we will have to take a number of painful steps and reduce budgets across the university.”