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Plan, performance guide reallocation

Savings from the largest wave of retirements the University has ever known have now been reallocated to schools and colleges on a new budgeting model that takes into account the priorities identified in the strategic plan and the performance of each unit.

"The development of our University is a long-term proposition," says Chancellor Mark Emmert, in a memo sent to deans earlier this month. The chancellor also presented the information to the University Senate at its November meeting.

"This means that each time we have an opportunity for resource reallocation, whether at the department, school, college, or University-level, we must consider our options carefully and align our budgetary decisions with our priorities and goals," he says.

The reallocation process, the memo continues, has begun to focus resources on the goals of the strategic plan, in the areas of undergraduate education, professional education, research and scholarship, partnership with government, industry and the citizens of the state, and diversity.

At the same time, Emmert says, "budget allocations must recognize that the University of Connecticut is not a polytechnic institute nor a liberal arts college, but a comprehensive research university. While the reallocation process will necessarily favor some programs or departments over others, the integrity and quality of a comprehensive set of academic degree programs must be maintained."

Out of Academic Affairs' total savings of $14.7 million under the state's early retirement program, $1.2 million was applied toward eliminating the University's operating deficit. Overall, $3.3 million of the biennial budget had to be returned to the state as part of the early retirement package.

The remaining $13.5 million has been reallocated in three stages. In order to begin some of the initiatives at the beginning of the fiscal year, a few items were included in the fiscal year 1998 budget, before the full scope of the retirements was known. The second phase attempted to address some of the vacancies that occurred with retirements in areas that had the most shortages. "It was a very tight timeframe because the deadline for retirements was August 1 and four weeks later classes were beginning," says Fred Maryanski, vice chancellor for academic administration.

The third and final round of reallocations this year involved a detailed look at priorities and performance factors. In addition to budget proposals from each school and college, data on enrollment trends, application trends, aggregate research and scholarly performance, and recent budget trends were taken into account, he says.

The funds, which are permanent allocations, will be assigned within the schools and colleges by the deans.

"Deans have told us their priorities and made budget requests. It's their decision how to spend the money to best meet the needs of the schools," Maryanski says.

He says most of the money will be used for hiring new faculty. There are about 60 searches underway now.

The chief beneficiaries of the reallocations were three professional schools: the School of Business Administration, which had a retirement savings of $483,000 and received a reallocation of $1.1 million; the School of Law, which had a savings of $203,000 and received $491,000; and the School of Pharmacy, which had a savings of $238,000 and received $796,000.

The College of Agriculture, the School of Engineering, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had the greatest savings from early retirements, with savings of $1.4 million each for agriculture and engineering, and $5.5 million for liberal arts and sciences. Agriculture and engineering each recouped $1.2 million in reallocations, while liberal arts and sciences received $4.4 million.

Maryanski says that the School of Engineering allocation includes support for computer science and engineering in the CITI program in Stamford, with searches to fill two new positions, and some of the reallocation for the College of Agriculture will fund new initiatives in biotechnology.

Although liberal arts and sciences lost more than $1 million, Maryanski says he does not expect a large reduction in the number of faculty. The college had about 40 faculty retirements, he says. Most of the savings will be in the difference between the salary of a retiring full professor and that of a new assistant professor.

He says the reallocations should be viewed in the context of the overall budget of a school or college. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has a $59 million budget. The School of Nursing, which had eight retirements - for a savings of $756,000 - and received $483,000, has a $3.4 million budget. "They've had a big loss, but are starting to rebuild," he says, adding that the school is going ahead with five searches this year, and may need to conduct additional searches the following year.

Two areas that experienced a net gain were undergraduate education and critical technologies, both of which have been recognized as priorities by the administration. Under-graduate education received a reallocation of $464,000, and critical technologies received $550,000. The reallocation budget also includes a new item of $150,000 for multicultural affairs, which will support joint faculty appointments between the cultural centers, the academic institutes, and academic departments and will fund the operating budget of the new vice provost of multicultural affairs. A search to fill the multicultural affairs position is now underway.

Maryanski says the reaction to the reallocations has been understandably mixed. "This is the first time we have looked at performance factors in such an extensive manner to determine the budget. There's a feeling it's a better way to do it. It's more open, there's more input, more information being used.

"Of course the results would be better received if there were more money. No one is overly happy with the results because of the tremendous needs everyone has. The majority are seeing decreases in absolute dollars. But there has been a serious effort to make this a fair process so that people understand where we have been able to make investments this year."

Maryanski adds that although he does not anticipate another wave of early retirements in the near future, budget reallocations - an approach that was recommended by the strategic planning implementation committee on resource allocation - will continue. "We will set aside 2 percent of the operating budget each year for reallocations according to performance," he says.

The regular budget cycle begins again in the spring, with budget requests due from deans in March.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu