February 6, 2009
As we work non-stop to address the funding crisis caused by the recession, good communication is vital. I write to update you on our progress. The task forces are completing their work and will report soon. The budget strategies team that I chair has held hearings with every budget center director, and I have met personally and individually with each member of the administrative council and with faculty and staff leaders to get their input on administrative structure and organization issues.
Although we have more work to do, some of our budget strategies are beginning to take shape:
- Our top priority is to protect academic quality and core mission areas, especially what happens in the classroom between faculty and students. We will work to maintain current student-to-faculty ratios, small classes and highly productive programs.
- Administrative, institutional support and academic administrative costs will be reduced significantly. Any downsizing will be accomplished through attrition and elimination of vacant positions as much as possible.
- We will delay or eliminate any new initiatives that might compromise our academic priorities. For example, we will not begin work on the core campus redevelopment project at the expense of academic programs.
- More centers and institutes will become self-supporting.
- We have re-directed our private fund-raising priorities to emphasize support for scholarships, students and faculty.
- We are working with legislators and Congress to make sure Clemson and South Carolina are included in any federal economic stimulus package. Lists of our “shovel-ready” projects and energy-efficiency upgrades have been compiled and shared.
I have met this week with state legislators and will meet tomorrow with our top alumni volunteers. My message has been clear: Clemson is delivering one of the nation’s finest educational experiences despite one of the nation’s lowest levels of basic state support for higher education.
During these meetings, I have shared a simple, black-and-white fact sheet that makes this point very clearly. For example:
- Clemson’s educational appropriation per student is approximately 30% of Georgia Tech’s, 25% of UNC-Chapel Hill’s, and less than 50% of N.C. State’s;
- In the past decade, South Carolina has invested roughly $250 million in capital and infrastructure funding for higher education. During that same period, Georgia has provided $2 billion and North Carolina has provided $5 billion.
- Clemson’s administrative costs (institutional support) are more than 40% less than administrative costs at UNC and 23% less than at Georgia Tech.
- In facilities operations and maintenance, Clemson spends 60% less than UNC and Georgia Tech.
- South Carolina leads the nation in one-year cuts to higher education, while North Carolina and Georgia have increased funding since last year.
- Adjusted for inflation, our per-student appropriation is now 40 percent less than it was in 1973.
- Despite these challenges, Clemson has achieved national recognition as a top-22 university, a “best value” for students, a good place to work and an emerging leader in IT and cyber-infrastructure. PhD enrollment has almost doubled, and surveys show our undergraduate students are happy and engaged in their learning.
The complete fact sheet (pdf) can be found at here.
I hope that you will click on the link above, read the entire brochure, and take satisfaction in what you have accomplished against all odds. Your hard work, dedication, productivity and creativity have made this happen. We are now determined to protect these gains as we work to accommodate unprecedented budget pressures.
We continue to need the understanding and best thinking of everyone in the Clemson community to get through this period.