WMU News

Litynski addresses budget cuts, institutes hiring freeze

Feb. 25, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- In a message today to the Western Michigan University community, Interim President Daniel M. Litynski announced an immediate hiring freeze on all new positions and existing vacancies as one step in meeting cuts in state funding.

Litynski also addressed other concerns with regard to projected state deficits, both this fiscal year and next year, and the implications to the university. The complete text of Litynski's message to the university community follows.

To the University Community:

In my recent State of the University address, I outlined Western Michigan University's student-centered excellence, long-term vision, and pending budget challenges. The challenges are upon us.

As you know, the economic downturn has significantly reduced state revenues. As a result, all 15 public universities received a less-than-inflationary increase of 1.5 percent in state appropriation support in fiscal year 2001-02. For the current fiscal year, 2002-03, the higher education budget initially received no increase in funding. Unfortunately, the economy continues to struggle, forcing policymakers to implement mid-year cuts to the state budget, including higher education.

Due to a $158 million deficit in the state budget, last Wednesday, Gov. Granholm issued, and the Legislature confirmed, an Executive Order that fulfills the constitutional obligation to balance the budget. This action will result in a 1.5 percent reduction to our current year state appropriation, in addition to the 2 percent cut made by Gov. Engler in December. These two cuts amount to almost a $4.4 million reduction in our 2002-03 budget. As a result, our remaining state appropriation payments will be reduced by well over one-half million dollars each month, effective immediately.

These unplanned, mid-year reductions must be covered in the few months now remaining in our university fiscal year. We are a lean organization and continually review our operations to increase our efficiencies. These latest cuts will be difficult to absorb, because of the internal budget reductions we have already implemented in previous years. Furthermore, the timing of these cuts and our concern for our students have precluded us from implementing any 2002-03 tuition adjustment -- our only other major source of revenue. We will continue to look for additional internal efficiencies and redirection of funds to lessen the immediate impact for this fiscal year. However, these cuts are permanent and we must make reductions in our future expenditures.

Effective immediately, I have directed the vice presidents and senior university officers to implement a hiring freeze. All new and replacement position authorizations will be frozen until further notice. Vice presidents are to review all such positions and closely scrutinize pending position hires. They will also be reviewing their entire areas of responsibility for further possible reductions.

These actions and other internal reallocations to be implemented should enable us to balance our budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. On March 6, however, Gov. Granholm will propose the state's 2004 budget and the current year deficit of $158 million is expected to be dwarfed by the projected $1.7 billion shortfall that the governor and Legislature must address for FY 2004. We anticipate even larger state budget cuts at that time. I ask all faculty and staff to review their areas of operation and identify any additional cost savings that can be made.

Thank you for your dedication and support during this challenging time.

Dr. Daniel M. Litynski
Interim President
Western Michigan University

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu


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