Budget cuts to North Dakota State will not cripple the university as much as force it to reevaluate and delay funding.
North Dakota University System chancellor Mark Hagerott’s order for NDSU to cut $6.4 million allotment, in the wake of Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s call to all state agencies to cut budgets by 4.05 percent, is necessary after a $1.1 billion shortfall offset the state’s 2015-17 biennium budget due to slumping oil prices and agricultural commodities. Provost Beth Ingram alerted the campus to the allotment in a Feb. 1 email.
Tuesday, Ingram emailed the campus again, detailing the hows and whys of NDSU’s new budget plan, which take a “strategic, collaborative and deliberative” approach, she wrote.
“Budget cuts are neither easy nor without ramifications,” Ingram emailed. “The reductions will have a negative impact on our ability to compete for large-scale federal grants, decrease the breadth of courses taught and reduce administrative support for faculty.”
Bruce Bollinger, vice president of finance and administration, submitted the new plan Feb. 11 to the state’s office of management and budget fiscal management, with one line item labeled “operating expenses” totaling $6,402,472.00. No other information relating to the allotment was detailed on the form.
The specifics of the plan, meanwhile, were laid out in full in Bollinger’s Feb. 16 memo to NDUS CFO Tammy Dolan, available on the provost’s office’s website.
NDSU will delay $3.2 million in funding to the Grand Challenge Initiative, an interdisciplinary research program, until 2017.
“When we consider how to protect and sustain programs that are central to supporting our students, faculty and staff, this was a reasonable option,” Ingram said in an email to The Spectrum.
The Grand Challenge Initiative allotment details cuts in a “combination of involved salaries and operating expenses,” Bollinger wrote to Dolan.
The initiative is focused on interdisciplinary team science addressing state, national and foreign needs in food systems and security, health populations and sustainable energy, among other infrastructure.
“This delay will affect NDSU’s ability to compete for large-scale federal grants and to address critical issues,” Bollinger wrote.
Ingram said in her Feb. 16 email that budget cuts will not be “across the board.” However, the university will reduce and reevaluate funding, salaries and services in many areas.
President Dean Bresciani, in an email to campus Thursday, said no layoffs are planned.
Bollinger outlined nine points in the allotment plan’s focus on administrative/faculty and programmatic reductions.
These ranged from restructuring the hiring request review process, holding positions open for longer periods and retaining quality staff and faculty. Other points included evaluating course loads and class sizes, scrutinizing salaries and expenses, evaluating shared services with departments, programs, colleges and the North Dakota State College of Science, prioritizing building repairs and maintenance and delaying other research programs until 2017, such as a president’s lecture series and a Ph.D. fellowship program.
Bollinger said in his memo to Dolan that the latter point will likely “decrease NDSU’s competitiveness in seeking large-scale federal grants, other state and local grants and public and private contracts.”
Ingram announced in her email the creation of a budget study group that will meet weekly until May.
The group created by Ingram “will begin a longer term process for the next biennial budget.”
The group’s 12 members are representatives from across campus, from Ingram to student body president Eric McDaniel to budget office director Cynthia Rott.
Ingram said in an email to The Spectrum, “… we are prepared if an adjustment is necessary.”
The group’s “charge” is to “collect and evaluate recommendations regarding a potential adjustment in NDSU’s appropriation, which focuses on soliciting ideas for budget adjustments, evaluating impacts on the strategic plan and collecting information from national groups and peer institutions.
“NDSU has been a responsible steward of its resources, and that discipline will make these difficult times easier to bear,” Bresciani said in his email.