From employee layoffs to turning off the lights at night, University of Toledo faculty and staff submitted nearly 150 budget suggestions throughout March in response to President Sharon L. Gaber’s request for ideas as the University works to find new and realistic ways to balance the budget.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget for next year calls for a 1 percent increase in state support for instruction (SSI), while other legislators have proposed a 0 percent increase in SSI. The proposed budget also includes another two-year tuition freeze and a program that would force the University to pay for textbooks, an estimated new annual cost of more than $13.5 million to UT.
“Thank you for your help and understanding as we analyze the serious operating budget challenges that the state’s proposed budget creates for UT as we begin the fiscal year July 1,” Gaber said. “We are in this together, and your thoughtful consideration of our financial reality will play a big role in how we move forward in choosing effective ways to reduce expenses, enhance revenue and increase efficiency while continuing to provide and strengthen the quality of education we offer to our students.”
Some of the major themes from the 21-page list of suggestions from faculty and staff include:
• Early retirement incentive program;
• Shut off all lights at night in academic buildings;
• Close the University during spring and winter breaks;
• Reduce or discontinue the practice of discounting tuition;
• Sell or rent the Scott Park buildings;
• Raise the cost of fines for parking violations;
• Use-it-or-lose-it vacation time;
• Eliminate cell phone stipend;
• Extend the summer reduction program throughout the year;
• Merge more offices or departments; and
• Eliminate or reduce low-enrollment classes and programs.
“We appreciate the responses and attention people have given to our budget reality,” Gaber said. “We are doing all we can to make this work to preserve jobs to serve our students.”
Larry Kelley, executive vice president for finance and administration, identified the early retirement incentive program as a realistic possibility for budget savings in the near future.
“The suggestion by faculty and staff of a voluntary retirement incentive program is under review,” Kelley said. “We are evaluating what this could look like. The next step will be to gauge the interest of those eligible to see if there would be adequate savings to help us finalize the budget for next year.”