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Budget Message from the President
September 10, 2013

 

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As we informed the campus community at the start of the academic year, we face significant challenges as a University entering our second century. The University of Memphis exists to provide learning, research and service for the benefit of our students, faculty and community. Each of us has a responsibility to deliver on this promise. 

Our funding model is now heavily dependent on enrollment and outcomes. Our students have experienced multiple years of tuition increases, leaving some of them in significant debt as they enter the work force. Additionally, our community has critical needs for an educated work force to fill the existing and growing job opportunities. We must make major adjustments to the way we operate so we can create a sustainable financial model for the University that serves our students in an affordable manner, ensures that our faculty engages in quality teaching, research and service, and produces a work force that is capable of supporting the community in which we live.

Our current funding gap is approximately $20 million, the result of a shift to the outcomes-based formula coupled with reduced state support, growing mandatory costs and enrollment declines. Since 2009, we have instituted numerous budget reductions, restructuring plans, voluntary buyouts and process improvement initiatives, but this is not enough. Our students have also shared the burden of absorbing previous reductions in state funding through tuition increases. A reconfiguration is required to address the funding gap and meet community work force demands, while also ensuring that tuition remains as low as possible. Although we have embarked on renewed efforts to grow enrollment, and we believe they will be successful, we must also adjust the way we operate to better serve our student body and provide a highly productive workplace for our faculty and staff.

Beginning immediately, all vacant positions (including faculty, staff, part-time instructors and temporary appointments) will be subject to a strategic hiring review process. This review will evaluate whether to move forward with filling positions based on the implications for enrollment growth, productivity and overall institutional efficiency. Some vacant positions will be filled, but many others will be eliminated or combined in conjunction with reconfigurations of the work within some areas. 

With a number of initiatives underway to grow enrollment, increase research funding, and improve efficiency, we are optimistic about the future, but we need to make some tough decisions as we create a structure that will fulfill the promises we have made to our students, faculty, staff and community. We need your help to get there.

We are committed to transparency and will hold a campus open forum within the next few weeks. I will be present at this meeting, along with my leadership team, to answer your questions and listen to your suggestions. An invitation will be forthcoming. I look forward to seeing you then.

Thank you,

R. Brad Martin
Interim President

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