The following message was shared by UNO Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., to UNO faculty and staff on Wednesday, July 8:
Members of the Maverick Community,
As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant fiscal challenges for the University of Nebraska system. Work is ongoing to address those challenges at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
Significant progress on finalizing the 2020-2021 budget will take place over the month of July. Many college, unit, department and individual meetings are taking place to communicate progress on the budget and to answer questions that faculty, staff and students may have.
Please know that we are committed to communicating frequently, university-wide, on our budget process and progress. This will include a virtual campus forum on Wednesday, July 22, and several direct email messages from myself and others.
The fact remains that difficult decisions will have to be made; however, they will be made as efficiently and thoughtfully as possible, with the collective best interests of our academic mission in mind. We will make cuts to academic programs and to staff only after we thoroughly analyze other options. Campus leaders are currently exploring efficiencies in our support services shared between our campus and UNMC, as well as across units on each campus.
UNO vice chancellors, deans and directors will continue to meet with their colleges and units over the next several weeks. We promise to communicate frequently on the steps that are being taken university-wide in relation to the budget.
Here is where the process stands today: UNO's 3.9% net reduction in total state funds budget will have an impact of a little more than $6.3 million, with an additional impact of $3.5 million on our auxiliary functions, such as events, housing, parking and so on. This budget reduction, which will be distributed over three years, is based on several assumptions, including a 2.75% tuition increase for this coming academic year (2020-21) and differential tuition increases.
We will have a bias toward front-loading our budget reductions as much as possible in this first year, knowing that a dollar saved today relieves the pressure on dollars that must be saved tomorrow. But we also will continue to look at this challenge with a “growth mindset.” Already, we have seen tremendous growth in student applications from Nebraska Promise, the UNO Incentives Program and other reductions in barriers to enrollment.
We have been fortunate in that some of the more extreme projections that we had modeled as recently as a few weeks ago did not become a reality. In Nebraska, and at UNO, we are in a better position than many other parts of the country, which have taken massive cuts to their economies because of the pandemic and the associated economic downturn. I also strongly believe that our growth strategy is highly viable.Still, there is no denying that difficult choices will have to be made. These budget cuts will affect personnel, both current employees and in the loss of unfilled positions.
Let me repeat, we will do everything we can to protect our talented faculty and staff.
Some of the budget-reducing programs that the university has introduced -- including a voluntary FTE-reduction program and a new furlough policy -- will provide some assistance in reaching our budgetary goals. However, with nearly 80 percent of our budget assigned to compensation, there will be jobs impacted.
Your feedback and input are essential to helping us understand the needs of our campus community. I look forward to working with the entire UNO community as we move through these changes. Please send any questions or input that you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.