Dear Faculty and Staff:
Let me wish you a very Happy New Year and an exciting Spring Semester 2009! Please welcome our returning Spring 2009 students back to campus and to classes. We also are grateful to have new students who are beginning at the University this semester. Obviously, the excellent educational experiences we provide our students and your support are paramount to their success. Thank you for taking the extra time and special efforts to recruit and retain our students and to help them achieve their potential.
Before the holidays, when Provost Faudree, Vice President Zettergren and I met with each college and with some divisions, we discussed the current state of the University’s finances and our anticipated response to the economic shortfall in State revenues. At that time we were discussing with you the effects of the buy-out and our plans not to replace the people who participated in the buy-out program. We will not be replacing people who were bought out.
Every year, we construct our budget from State appropriations, tuition revenue, from revenue we generate through grants and contracts, sales of goods and services, and from donations. We also control our budget through cost containment and expense reductions. Not replacing the people who participated in the buy-out plan is one of the major steps we took. We are working on all aspects of the budget from revenue generation to expense controls. We also are preparing a variety of budget scenarios.
As you may have read, the Governor has delayed submitting his budget to the State Legislature, pending accounting of State revenues and some possible revenue stimulus. Therefore, we do not have specific budget directions. It is anticipated that when the Governor submits the budget, the State Legislature will not finalize their approval until late Spring Semester. Another factor in the budget preparation is projecting tuition revenue for the Fall of 2009. While the Tennessee Board of Regents voted to remove the tuition cap and have students pay for all hours for which they enroll, the Regents also are allowing each university to make tuition recommendations about the cost of each hour. We will receive further guidance from TBR about what they are willing to consider. We will continue to push for more resources from the State and Federal governments, as well as being good stewards of the resources entrusted with us from individuals and families through tuition and fees.
But the key to having an improved budget picture and to keeping as many people employed as possible is the number of students and the number of courses in which they enroll. Our priorities will remain our students’ learning and their staying on track for graduation in a timely manner. Thank you, again, for your expertise as faculty and staff, for your devotion to keeping our programs and learning experiences vibrant and for creating the warm, welcoming learning environment at the University of Memphis. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, your division or department head, dean or director, or representative to the Faculty Senate or to the Staff Senate.
Shirley C. Raines