Since accepting the position of interim dean, financial challenges in the college have been a priority. It’s certainly not the area I had wanted to focus on. This college is an extraordinary institution dedicated to teaching, research and service. I would have much preferred getting to know our faculty, staff and students better than being focused on budget issues. But finding a way to deal with our financial problems will profoundly affect our people, programs and plans for the future.
When I took this job I committed to be honest, fair, ethical and accountable. Today, I put that commitment on the line. I am going to tell you where we stand regarding our financial health. And to be blunt, the money does not go far enough to cover all of our expenses.
The coming budget years are bleak. The economy has not rebounded strongly enough to boost state revenues. The legislature is planning to cut the state’s contribution to Clemson University by 21 percent and to cut the Public Service Activities budget by 18 percent. In the short term, legislators are proposing to provide stimulus funds to cover Clemson shortfalls for one year. Subsequently, we will lose millions of dollars that we must adjust for.
The college is integral to both the university and PSA, and we must deal with reductions from each unit. I have been meeting with university, college and PSA leaders to understand the situation and develop a plan to meet the challenges.
The plan is not complete, yet. There are still factors we cannot address until decision-makers in Columbia act. Meanwhile, I want to tell you where we stand.
The CAFLS plan is focused on maintaining the superior standards we have set for teaching, scholarship, research and service. We will preserve our core mission to prepare our students and make significant contributions to science and society. But cuts are coming and they will be felt throughout the college.
The plan calls for:
Personnel reductions brought about through retirements, attrition and filling only high-priority positions. I hope that will be enough to meet the situation. I cannot make promises that more dire actions will not be needed.
Reorganizing funding and revenue strategies to focus on people and programs that enhance our mission. Our first obligation is to deliver our core courses. We also must find ways to generate revenue through tuition and grants. Our relationship with PSA will change to fund research in well-defined areas to better serve our state and nation.
Efficiency measures that cut spending for maintenance and operations relentlessly will be ongoing. These savings will be both large and small, ranging from no new building renovations or construction to lower room temperatures and less paper for copiers and computers. Reduce, reuse and recycle are words to live by now.
I ask for your help. I have already met with Department Chairs to identify emphasis areas for the college. These are sustainable agriculture and economic development, food and packaging systems, human and veterinary biomedical sciences, and environment and energy. These in fact match up well with the emphasis areas announced by President Barker, which are sustainable environment, health, energy, transportation, and education in science and math.
Think about the following concerns and offer your ideas.
It is urgent that we move forward with our plan. We have only a few months before we must begin to act.
Our troubles are real but they will pass. Everything in life is relative. We can adjust and continue to put forth our best efforts.
Contact me by e-mail with your questions, concerns and suggestions.