This morning I attended my first Board of Regents meeting as UHD President. One of the biggest issues we discussed was budget. The UH system is in good shape. Several of the campuses are growing and research is growing significantly, particularly at UH, but also for the entire system. There were two main presentations, one on the budget and one on research. The following is a statement I sent out today to the entire campus:
At today's meeting, the UH System Board of Regents voted to approve the FY2010 operating budget for UHD. This budget reflects the priorities established by the UHD community through the spring planning process.
UHD’s total budget for the coming fiscal year totals $137 million and includes $6.4 million in new operating resources. We focused on the following high-profile initiatives in presenting the budget to the Board and to the Board’s Finance and Administration Committee:
• Advising and Scholarship Support ($1.8 million) – UHD will expand its advising and transcript evaluation services by adding 11 more advisers and transcript evaluators in order to better serve both first time in college and transfer students. We will also be adding 2 transfer coordinators and a Veterans Services coordinator. Funding for this initiative will come from the new advising fee. The bulk of the new money reflects increased scholarship support for UHD students from state and institutional sources.
• New Faculty to Support Growth ($924,000) – This budget includes 14 new, full-time faculty positions needed to accommodate our projected enrollment growth.
• Involvement in UH System Northwest Initiative at Lone Star College’s new center off Texas 249 ($250,000). We have committed these funds to ensure that UHD will have the resources needed to be an active partner in delivering courses and degrees at the teaching center.
Developing an operating budget for the coming year presented many challenges. The state budget for the FY2010/2011 biennium contains an estimated $12 billion of one-time federal stimulus funds. UHD’s FY2010/2011 appropriation includes $1.15 million of federal stimulus funds.
Due to the one-time nature of these funds, and because there are continuing concerns about the national and state economy, we have decided to delay making a decision about salary increases for UHD employees. None of the UHS universities included unconditional, base-funded salary increases in their FY 2010 budgets, except for UH-Clear Lake, which was not able to provide pay increases to its employees for the current year (FY2009).
It is worthwhile to note that in many states, public college and universities are experiencing conditions that are much worse than the conditions in Texas. A recent report issued by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit , Washington D. C.-based think tank that examines federal and state fiscal policy, stated that as a result of this economic downturn, at least 32 states have implemented severe cuts to public colleges and universities.
By contrast, UHD continues to grow. As of yesterday, UHD had 11,205 students registered, an increase of 486 students (4.5 percent) compared to the number registered at this time last fall. Total student credit hours as of yesterday are also up by 5.3 percent. If we succeed in building our student credit hours throughout the year, a pay raise may be possible in spring, 2010.
In closing, let me say that while there are certainly challenges, they are greatly outnumbered by the opportunities. UHD is a young and vital institution in a high-growth part of the country and it has very talented faculty and staff. In the coming months, we will examine ways that we can both grow and re-shape our enrollments in strategic and resource-positive ways in order to benefit our students and therefore the institution. Thank you for continuing to encourage students to enroll at and attend UHD.
"At UHD, We're Making A Name For Ourselves."