Welcome back! It is wonderful to see our campus come to life again with students eager to start spring semester. I hope your break was restful and you had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. The Feinsteins had a wonderful time skiing last week, and I played a little disc golf with my son, Nick, and friends the week before, so I feel fully recharged and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.
For me, the fall semester was about listening and learning — at student gatherings,
faculty and staff meetings, campus and community events, and from many others. I have
experienced firsthand what an incredible university this is, with a culture deeply
committed to student success. We pride ourselves on our personalized approach serving
a diverse student body and offering transformational opportunities. For us to fully
realize our potential, the first task is to address our $10 million structural deficit.
The exercise we must undertake to adjust the budget is the initial step in ensuring
a bright future for the university. Regarding our finances, I particularly appreciated
the questions and conversations at the Budget 101 presentations that CFO Michelle Quinn and I hosted. About 800 people attended the
six sessions. Our President’s Leadership Council (PLC) devoted dozens of hours in
meetings, working together to develop recommendations based on rigorous and informative
discussions of the 13 potential cost-saving options that we shared with the campus in October.
Now, as we move into spring semester, it is time for action. Tomorrow, Interim Provost Theo Kalikow and members of the three task forces that she convened in September will hold a Task Force Forum to discuss and solicit input on their recommendations regarding student success, student affairs and our academic portfolio. One week from today, the PLC and I will host a Potential Cost-Savings Forum to discuss the 13 options that we explored throughout the fall semester. A summary of the information that we will discuss at the January 14 forum is now available here. The document includes key takeaways from the fall semester and the PLC’s recommendation for each of the 13 cost-savings options. I hope you can participate in both of these important events. Details about times, locations and how to provide feedback if you can’t attend are available in the sider on this page.
One thing that has become clear during our PLC meetings is that only a fraction of our $10 million structural deficit can be resolved with overarching cost-savings approaches. The PLC’s fall semester work is a crucial first step in reducing the deficit, but many decisions about cost reductions need to be made at the division, college and unit levels by people who fully understand how the decisions will affect their operations.
We are working to develop a more transparent budgeting process for academic year 2019-20, which we hope will empower vice presidents, deans and other administrative leaders to be more involved in the decision-making process. We have gathered information about our spending patterns and how our peer institutions and other Colorado universities allocate resources. The PLC will look at this information and discuss strategies for allocating additional cost reductions to the divisions early this semester to set division-level cost-savings goals by early February. From early February to early March, each division will determine how to adjust its budget to meet our goals. This will allow decisions about issues such as staffing levels and faculty workload to be addressed at the division, college and unit level. Meanwhile, this semester, we are collaborating with Huron Consulting Group to enhance our strategic enrollment management initiatives and improve student success by focusing on the entire student life cycle, from recruitment to graduation. Upcoming opportunities to participate in this process are in the sider.
This will be a challenging semester, and I will do everything within my power to be open and transparent with you. We need to take these challenges head-on, together, while keeping our focus on what matters most to us. Our first priority is our students and their success. Faculty, staff and administrators are also critically important to make our promise to students a reality.
Task Force Open Forum—Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2-4 p.m. University Center Ballrooms
The event will provide opportunities to learn more and offer feedback about the task force recommendations. Committee representatives will be available at tables throughout the room to discuss and answer questions about their work. After the event, the collected feedback and recommendations will be reviewed by the President’s Leadership Council. The recommendations will guide implementation strategies, which will commence this spring. This online form for providing anonymous feedback is also available until Monday, Jan. 14.
Feedback for Strategic Enrollment Management—Jan. 10-11
UNC has partnered with Huron to engage in a strategic enrollment management effort. Huron has already conducted nearly 45 personal interviews of faculty, staff and administrators. In an effort to seek additional perspectives and feedback, Huron has made available 36, 15-minute interview slots for faculty and staff to sign-up and attend on Thursday, Jan. 10. Schedule an interview here. For faculty and staff who can't attend in-person, this short, five-question survey is available until Friday, Jan. 11.
Potential Cost-Savings Open Forum—Monday, Jan. 14, 9-11 a.m., University Center Ballrooms
The forum will begin with an overview of the PLC’s fall semester discussions and recommendations, followed by roundtable discussions with the opportunity to provide feedback. Suggestions and concerns will be recorded on large easel pads and displayed in the ballroom through 5 p.m. Jan. 14 to allow for additional participation and comments throughout the day. An online form for providing anonymous feedback will also be available from 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14 through 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Division-level Cost Savings Work—Feb. 8 through March 8.
I will continue to need your involvement and invite your suggestions and tough questions
as we work through this semester. I came here to work with you on building a better
future for UNC. Together, we will overcome our financial challenges and put the university
in position to thrive for generations to come.
Rowing, Not Drifting,
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