The proposed 2012-2013 budget anticipates a $3.5 million reduction in support from the territory's general fund, as determined by the V.I. Office of Management and Budget.
For the current fiscal year, the university receives $26.4 million from the general fund, compared to an anticipated $22.9 million for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. Total revenues projected in the new budget, including tuition and fees, grants, contracts and investments, are $44.9 million, compared to $48 million in the 2011-2012 budget.
Current expenditures, which had to be adjusted midyear because of the territory's economic woes, are $47.8 million. For the upcoming fiscal year, the total expenditures are projected at $44.9 million.
“This is beyond cutting the fat, we are getting to the bone,” UVI President David Hall told the board as it reviewed the budget resolution. “It is a tremendous challenge … it will have a serious impact on the operations of our institution.”
Among the steps being taken to accommodate the reduced revenues are: reduction of travel and food expenses, elimination of vacant faculty positions, a .4 percent reduction in the budgets of the schools of business, education and nursing and the colleges of liberal arts and math and science, and the elimination of 14 vacant support staff positions.
The bare bones budget proposal approved by the trustees must still be approved by the V.I. Senate.
It stands in stark contrast to the five-year Strategic Plan, which looks to a future in which the university is a major driving force in the economic recovery of the territory.
The 51-page plan, called “Pathways to Greatness,” focuses on six areas: Academic quality and excellence, student development and success, community engagement and globalization, a modern and safe university environment, organizational and human development, and financial sustainability and growth.
Within those areas the plan presented by Hall has 50 performance goals and 96 measurable objectives. The plan doesn't just say “The university will teach better,” it gives a specific standard for what that means, steps to achieve it and how to measure if they succeeded or not. It also gives an estimate of what it would cost.
For example, the goal “Increase faculty productivity and effectiveness by expanding research and faculty scholarship expectations and opportunities,” is accompanied by three measurable steps:
- By spring 2016, UVI faculty will increase the number of faculty publications by 10 percent over current numbers.
- By spring 2016, UVI faculty will increase the number of presentations at national conferences by 10 percent.
- By spring 2016, UVI will increase the number of research applications submitted and funded by 10 percent.
The plan then offers actions that could be taken to achieve those objectives, including creating incentives for publication and creating a UVI academic journal, and identifies what university official might head up the effort.
And it suggests that the process would cost about $100,000.
The entire plan, if achieved, is estimated to cost $39 million over the course of the five years.
The challenge, Hall said, is to diversify the school's revenue sources, and to convince the community – from the government officials who control the budgetary purse strings, to business leaders and the community at large that the university is worth investing in.
Board member Jennifer Nugent Hill said policy makers have to recognize that, “The university of the Virgin Islands is helping to drive that new economy.”
If the university if not funded and if the population doesn't take advantage of the educational opportunities, “We're going to be left behind,” she said.
Hall said he understands the economic realities the university has to lie within, but at some point the government is going to have to make UVI a priority and reverse the funding cuts.
“It has to happen in the next few years,” Hall said.
The university is also seeking greater community support. In past years, only six percent of alumni made donations to support the school they graduated from. In the 50th anniversary year, UVI has been running a “50 for 50” campaign, seeking to get donations from 50 percent of the alumni. Even if the individual donation is small, the breadth of the alumni support is important. Saturday Hall announced that the drive has now topped 25 percent.
“In two years going from six percent to 25 percent, even if we don't do any more, is a tremendous feat that doesn't happen every day. But we are still committed to reaching the 50-percent goal. If you know others who are alums who haven't given yet, let them know we need them,” the president said.
School officials are also preparing to launch a major capital campaign, hoping to raise enough money to put a dent in the strategic plan's needs and create an endowment for future needs.
In other action, the board:
- Endorsed a decision by the executive committee to enter into a 20-year solar energy power purchasing agreement with the firm Caribbean Wind Energy and System 3. The company was one of six to respond to a request for proposals issued in August 2011. It will install arrays of photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity when sunlight falls on them. The university will purchase about three megawatts for the St. Thomas campus and two megawatts on the St. Croix campus.
- Unanimously voted to elect chairman Alexander Moorhead to another term as chairman, and Henry C. Smock as vice chairman.
- Heard a progress report on the construction of the Research and Technology Park building being built on the St. Croix campus. David Zumwalt, executive director of the UVI Research and Technology Park Corp., said construction is on schedule. He anticipates completion in late December or early January, and clients should begin moving in March.