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Plan to avert impending UMass budget crisis to be ready by spring

In a meeting with the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Chancellor Robert Holub outlined steps he plans to take to address future gaps in the budget.

According to the Chancellor’s budget update on June 18, the University of Massachusetts faces a deficit of approximately $30 million dollars in fiscal year 2011, and these difficulties will continue in fiscal year 2012.

If new sources of revenue are not found, this budget deficit will result in layoffs and the elimination of programs. In order to prevent this from happening, the administration has formed a budget task force made up of faculty and specialists, whom are currently developing a plan for the best course of action. The budget task force will have working meetings with vice chancellors in order to get their perspectives. The Chancellor promised more detailed explanations for creating new sources of revenue in mid-to-late spring.

Though there are few concrete plans announced at the moment, the Chancellor and his associates have offered glimpses of what they will do in the near future.

Ed Blaguszewski, executive director of news and media relations, said that UMass will need to offer more graduate programs and increase its out of state presence.

“UMass needs to raise revenue to close the budget gap, two ways we could do this are increasing professional education and raising the amount of out-of-state students,” he said. 

Also, Holub will be seeking to further the admissions presence in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to recent press releases. Raising the proportion of out-of-state students would allow the university to collect more revenue from tuition.

The amount of money received in donations has also taken a hit due to the state of the economy, so the Chancellor wants to see a greater focus on fundraising. Other ideas for increasing revenue include a larger focus on summer session, continuing education, enrollment management, and research grants.

As of right now, stimulus money is preventing any layoffs and program cuts. UMass has received $33 million dollars in stimulus money to date.

Most recently UMass was awarded $7 million dollars in federal stimulus money from the National Institute of Health for upgrades at the Lederle Graduate Research Center on campus, according to UMass News Office. The stimulus money will stop coming in fiscal year 2011 and UMass must rely on its own creation of revenue and support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

In order to stem unnecessary spending, UMass has implemented a ‘zero-based’ budget. This means all departments must justify each line item of their expenditures after each semester. The ‘zero-based’ budget was implemented following the economic downturn of a year ago; normally faculty and staff are only required to produce a ‘zero-based’ budget every few years.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at rhitt@student.umass.edu.

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