During its regular meeting on November 5, the University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees approved a $113.9 million operating budget for the 2020-21 academic year. The board previously approved an interim operating budget at its May 28 meeting that ensured all faculty and staff would be paid in full through December 31, 2020.
The approved budget represents a $6.7 million reduction from the previous year’s operating budget. That shortfall was due to both a 7% reduction in state funding as well as decreases in enrollment and credit hour production—USI’s two main sources of funding.
“The approval of our 2020-21 budget allows us to continue to offer security for our employees as we provide ongoing academic excellence and services to our students,” said Ronald S. Rochon, USI President. “With this budget, we are committing to paying all faculty and staff in full through June 30, 2021, the end of our fiscal year. Our employees have made sacrifices and worked hard to keep this University on solid footing during the pandemic. We can now look to the future as we build upon the success of our collective campus effort to remain a strong and vibrant institution.”
The budget deficit has been absorbed in three key areas: unfilled employee vacancies, including salaries and benefits; supply and expense reductions; and travel savings. “The University community has done a great job of pulling together this year to help overcome this budget shortfall,” said Steve Bridges, Vice President for Finance and Administration. “I am pleased to share with you that our strategies have been successful. The decision to not fill open positions has been necessary but we also realize it has been difficult and has caused additional strain in some areas.”
While the budget is balanced for the remainder of the fiscal year, Bridges said moving forward the University could feel the impact of this Fall Semester for four years as the smaller freshman class works its way through the pipeline from freshman to senior. To address future budget needs, Rochon announced that he is creating a committee made up of faculty, staff and administration. “This will be a committee representative of our campus community and with transparency and long-term strength at the heart of its work,” said Rochon. “Among the goals of this committee will be returning to salary increases for employees, being good financial stewards of resources and aligning with our University Strategic Plan goals. It’s imperative that we make adjustments in order to be responsive to the ever-changing higher education landscape.”
In other business, the board approved candidates for conferral of degrees for Fall Commencement and heard reports on student financial assistance, insurance renewals and construction projects.
Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia