TO: All Faculty and Staff
Dear O.U. Staff and Faculty members,
As you have followed media reports, I am sure that you are aware of the financial challenges faced by the university this year.
These challenges are being confronted by all of the public and private colleges and universities in America. Private colleges have faced huge losses in their endowment funds which pay for their operational budgets. Even Ivy League institutions face likely cuts in salaries for their faculties and staffs as well as layoffs. Public universities face the additional shortfalls in state revenues. In some states, the revenue collections are down by billions of dollars and their institutions will face deep cuts. This is the most serious downturn in our economy since the depression of the 1930s.
Our state government is likely to face a revenue shortfall of $600 million this year. While very serious, it is considerably lower than a majority of states. Because of this shortfall, it is very unlikely that the state will be able to provide sufficient funding increases for the university. We could experience no increases at all or even some cuts. Fortunately, Governor Henry and legislative leaders have expressed their hope that cuts in education can be avoided. Even without cuts, our uncontrollable costs like health care, utilities, maintenance, information technology, and library costs will continue to rise. This means that we will have to find other internal savings just to stay even.
While we are being impacted on the campus, our students and families are also facing economic hardships. In just two days this week, 100,000 Americans lost their jobs. This year, the families of our students simply cannot afford increases in tuition and across the board mandatory fees.
Earlier than most institutions, we anticipated the economic slowdown and planned for it. In July, we placed a freeze on new hiring. We also stopped capital projects which were not already underway if they required the issuance of bonds. In addition, colleges and units began budget reprogramming to save additional funds. Because of our actions, we have already been able to cut our costs by approximately $9 million compared to this time last year. This puts us in a stronger position than most colleges to weather this economic storm.
All units of the university, including the Department of Athletics, will be working to help us meet our budget targets. We will all be in the same boat together.
Because it is likely that increases in state appropriations will be small or nonexistent, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to give raises to faculty, staff or administrators during the next budget year which starts July 1.
It is my strong goal to avoid major layoffs or furloughs. We will work long and hard to preserve the jobs which are done so well by all of you. I am very optimistic that we will succeed in protecting those jobs.
In addition to avoiding loss of jobs and furloughs, we also want to help our students and families by holding tuition and mandatory fees steady with no increases next year.
This is a great institution with a great spirit. By sacrificing for each other and helping each other, we can achieve a result which is fair to all.
While we experience these tough economic times we should not stop planning for an even greater future for O.U. We must not limit our goals. For example, in some cases what we hoped would be three-year plans may now need to become five-year plans.
It is only a matter of time until economic growth returns and when it does we must be ready to move forward quickly.
Challenging times often bring out the best in all of us. I know that as we come through this period, our O.U. family ties will become stronger than ever. Every day I feel privileged to work with you and to be part of this family.
David L. Boren
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ASC Members,Thank you for your prompt response on volunteering for the ASC Committee for Staff Merit Awards! The committee to select an ASC staff award winner will be Anna Biggers, Mechelle Gibson, Suzanne Harrell, Teri Lodes and Terri Sarsycki. Further information will be provided to the committee once nominations have been received. Thank you!