Members of faculty and the administration met on Friday to hear Chief Financial Officer Dick Campbell give his annual financial update. This year he not only reported that USM would face more than $5 million in cuts in fiscal year 2014, but he also showed those gathered a four-year projection of the cuts that he thinks the university will face.
For fiscal year 2015, Campbell predicted an additional $3.7 million in cuts followed by another $2.2 million in fiscal year 2016, and he estimated that the university will face around $1 million in cuts in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
“We have a very, very difficult period ahead,” he said, pointing at a slide that showed the anticipated fiscal years.
“One of the things that I wish we had done differently and that we didn’t and that I think we are doing now … is we need to be thinking about this not only in terms of ‘how do we make reductions now?’, but ‘how do we make reductions now that are going to position us better into the future?’”
Throughout his update, Campbell stopped for questions in which faculty and administration members offered suggestions. He explained that his goal was to start a dialogue with the university to work together to come up with viable solutions within a relatively short period of time –– the 2014 fiscal year budget is due in the beginning of April. He beseeched those gathered to start future conversations about what needs to be done to get the cuts accomplished.
“The discussion that we desperately need to have is what are we going to do to help us shift these numbers –– as a starting point,” he said. “I’d love to do some of the things you’re suggesting, but I need to think about how we do it when we’re saying ‘if we do this here’s how it’s going to affect revenue and expense,’ and ‘this is what we’re going to have to do to make it happen,’” he said. “Those I think are the critical conversations that we have to have.”
President Theo Kalikow entered into the dialogue, adding that this is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning.
“We all need to understand what the reality is that we’re working in so that we can start to address the changes we need to make and the remodelings that we need to make to be able to deal with the numbers and make a reality for USM that will be a viable reality in which we can all work together,” Kalikow said.
Acknowledging the “appalling” numbers, Kalikow was also quick to push for positive conversations about the changes that USM is quickly headed toward. “It’s not going to be like your fantasies; it’s not going to be like my fantasies,” she said talking about the future. “We don’t know what the hell it’s going to be. We understand, I hope, from these numbers the direction that we have to go; we have to go there by having this conversation together and by trying stuff and making it work,” she said.
Facing the uncertainty of the next few weeks, Kalikow stressed the importance of cooperation. “It’s really important for us to be all on the same page with this. We can’t be fighting in public,” she said. “The more that happens, the less successful we’re going to be.”