Office of the Provost
Office of the Provost
For Academic Affairs
P.O. Box 6910
Radford, Virginia 24142
Phone (540) 831-5404
FAX (540) 831-5142
TO: Members of the Academic Affairs Leadership Team
FROM: Wil Stanton, Provost
DATE: 20 October 2008
SUBJECT: Responding to Budgetary Constraints
As we all know, the Commonwealth and nation are currently facing an economic crisis that some
commentators believe is the worst since the Great Depression. As we also know, even though our
institution remains underfunded, both Radford University, and more specifically, the Division of
Academic Affairs will be affected by the current financial situation. I write to provide you information
that will help you better understand what the Commonwealth is expecting of us, the thinking that has
gone into the actions we have taken thus far, and some critical “next steps” we need to adopt as we
collectively address this crisis.
To help you better understand how we got where we now are, I think a little background would be
helpful. Here are some important dates and actions:
On July 16, 2008, Wayne Turnage, Chief of Staff for Governor Kaine, sent a memorandum
advising all agency heads of a potential revenue shortfall and encouraging them to initiate
actions to curtail discretionary spending. As you know, since that date, the economy of the
Commonwealth and of the nation as a whole has worsened.
On September 2, 2008, Mr. Turnage sent a memorandum to all Heads of Executive Branch
Agencies presenting the revenue outlook and detailing actions to be taken by all agencies. In
this memorandum, he stated, “In anticipation of a reduced revenue forecast, Governor Kaine
has directed each agency to prepare plans to reduce its budget. To that end, each agency is
asked to submit proposed strategies to reduce its budget by five (5) percent, ten (10) percent,
and fifteen (15) percent for each year of the biennium.” Mr. Turnage also attached to that
memorandum specific instructions for the preparation and submission of the reduction plans.
He made it clear that “the new reductions will be in addition to the reduction amounts already
contained in the 2008 Appropriation Act, Chapter 879.”
In his memorandum, Mr. Turnage stated, “As you prepare your reduction plans, I ask that you
conduct a comprehensive review of all options, looking in particular at areas where our costs
outstrip national norms. We will also need to take a close look at current state policies that
might lead to higher costs. It is important to focus on targeted cuts rather than across-the-
board reductions. We will continue to do all we can to protect core services, but the need for
tough decisions will require examination of all areas of state spending.”
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When I received word of these expectations, I immediately began working with the
members of the Council of Deans to explore ways to conserve budgeted monies and
prepare for probable budget reversions. On September 15, I provided each member of the
Council of Deans with a template to detail possibilities within their areas and to develop
proposals for reversions of five, ten, and fifteen percent of current year budgets. Specific
categories were identified in the guidelines provided by the State for budget reversions.
Possibilities for Academic Affairs included:
Reduce personnel costs: This could include such strategies as leaving vacant
positions unfilled, eliminating faculty, staff or administrative positions, consolidating
services to reduce personnel needs, implementing strategic furloughs, etc.
Improved business practices and efficiencies: This could include strategies such as
consolidating services, enhancing use of technology, streamlining services to those
that are essential, implementing energy savings strategies, redistribution of course
offerings to reduce the number of sections offered during a given term, etc.
Reduce discretionary spending: This could include strategies such as limiting travel
to essential purposes or specific professional development activities, curtailing non-
essential support services, reducing release time, etc.
Reduce or eliminate current programs or services: This could include such
strategies as eliminating academic programs or concentrations, reducing non-
personnel services budgets, eliminating, combining, or reducing non-classroom
activities and services, etc.
I provided each member of the Council of Deans with principles and guidelines to help them in the
exploration of alternatives in addressing budget reversions for RU. These guidelines were also
posted to the Provost website.
Overarching Principle: The overarching principle as we planned for budget reversions was that
such reversions must not jeopardize the role and mission of the University, the strategic plan
for the University as a whole, 7-17, and strategic plans of the various units within Academic
Affairs. Thus, the guiding principle required that, even in light of the significant reductions in
state support, we must position the University for sustained viability.
Other Guiding Principles: In addition to the overarching principle, the process of developing
budget reversion plans was determined by other guiding principles.
1. Budget reversion decisions should be data-informed but not exclusively data-driven.
2. Plans should be developed only after broad consultation, beginning with members of
the Council of Deans and, in turn, with their leadership teams.
3. Plans must not diminish quality. A quality education and associated services to
students must remain the University’s number one priority. Budget reduction strategies
must protect the University’s ability to recruit and retain students and to provide the
instruction necessary for the highest quality educational experience. Maintaining the
University’s reputation for offering a high quality educational experience must be of
4. We must protect to the greatest extent possible the ability of students to graduate in a
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5. Budget reductions and realignments must be accomplished in ways that recognize the
fundamental contributions of faculty, administrators, and staff to the academic mission
of the University.
6. Budget reductions and realignments must be future-oriented and not limited to
preserving current investments. Programs, activities and services that are central to the
academic mission of the University must be appropriately supported in order to continue
improving the quality of education, student access to courses and services, and faculty
and staff development. Conversely, programs, activities, and services that are not
central to RU’s academic mission must be critically assessed for elimination,
significantly reduced in scope, outsourced at less expense to the institution, or
mandated to find more cost-effective ways to continue.
7. All units must explore enhanced efficiencies, including consolidation of departments,
programs, and services within and across units. The costs and the numbers of
instructional and non-instructional functions and activities must be considered for
reduction or realignment.
8. Implementation of budget reductions and realignments must not result in shifting work
between units, colleges, departments, or programs unless it is a mutually agreed upon
9. Units must optimize savings from current and upcoming position vacancies. Personnel
reductions may result in part from administrative and programmatic consolidations,
reorganizations, attrition, and the implementation of this year’s T&R faculty WTO.
Deans, school directors, and department chairs should not assume that personnel who
resign, retire, or otherwise vacate positions in an academic unit will automatically be
replaced, or will automatically be replaced in that unit.
10. Budget reductions must maintain to the extent possible the full "public service" mission
of the University so that research, outreach, and service obligations can continue, even
though they may have to continue in a constrained manner.
Initial Charge to Academic Affairs Units
Administrative areas, Colleges, the Library, and subunits within them were asked to develop
possible operational strategies for contributing to the budget reversion within the categories
expected by the state and for each of the initial reversion targets: 5%, 10%, and 15%. Specifically,
units were asked to develop strategies to:
Simplify, consolidate, and make more efficient all administrative functions and staffing in
order to seek cost savings and flexibility and to seek inter-collegiate consolidations of
operations. Units were further asked to:
o Review duties and scope of responsibilities of all administrative and professional
faculty positions in order to revise, extend, and or consolidate duties and
responsibilities to effect the most effective and efficient use of resources.
o Assess the elimination of administrative and professional faculty positions where
possible without eliminating essential services to students.
Simplify, consolidate, and make more efficient all academic programs in order to seek cost
savings and flexibility. Units were further asked to:
o Assess options to deliver instruction in ways different from current methods – new
methods providing more effectiveness and efficiency (e.g. distance education
methods and modalities).
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o Assess options to provide an array of course offerings so that the inventory of
courses within a program is reduced without diminishing the quality of students’
o Assess alternative instructional approaches that are less human resource
(instructor) intensive but that maintain instructional integrity.
o Evaluate the possibility to merge or realign departments/programs; i.e., review
academic programs in different colleges that may be realigned, merged, or in other
ways restructured to share faculty, courses, and resources.
o Assess the possibilities to reduce “options" and/or "concentrations" within programs
that will result in a concomitant reduction in course offerings.
o Assess ways to free resources to strengthen some programs by reducing,
reconfiguring, or eliminating other academic programs that are no longer central to
the University, even though that may mean reducing the inventory of educational
opportunities for students.
o Assess the possibility of redesigning academic programs and curricula to create the
flexibility required to meet emerging and changing needs of employers.
o Assess emergent programmatic and curricula needs to position RU for future growth
o Consider new student assessment and testing to improve advising, thus reducing
the need to “re-teach” students due to academic failure.
o Identify committees and functions that are now required or deployed across the
University that can be streamlined or eliminated. This may require the restructuring
of Internal Governance and reviewing and revising handbooks of the Faculty, AP,
and Staff senates.
Determine the possibility and feasibility to work collaboratively with other colleges and
universities, to effect partnerships resulting in agreements permitting “curriculum
sharing" and possible "faculty sharing” as a means to complement and strengthen
Strengthen support services for students, faculty, and staff in the areas of technology
and professional and staff development.
Identify strategies to reduce costs by:
o Being conservative with non-personnel spending.
o Reducing or eliminating wage positions where major University and Student
services would not be diminished.
o Employing 9- or 10-month classified employees rather than 12-month employees.
Also, considering reducing the total number of authorized staff positions.
o Reclaiming to the extent possible all reassigned time that is internally funded and
return teaching and research faculty positions as fully as possible to teaching.
o Having qualified administrative and professional faculty members in Academic
Affairs teach at least one course each semester.
o Eliminating for the present and immediate future administrative and professional
faculty positions whose loss will not substantially disrupt essential operations.
o Suspending other administrative and professional faculty positions whose loss can
be tolerated temporarily through adjustments in staffing and operations.
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o Reducing or eliminating E&G support to auxiliary and public service enterprises.
o Hiring new faculty at CUPA competitive salary at Peer institutions, but at lesser
amounts than separating, retiring, or WTO faculty.
o Considering implementing an execution of the WTO for Administrative and
o Making summer sessions more/entirely self-supporting by encouraging more
students to use summer as part of their 4-year graduation strategy.
Assess ways to increase revenues by creating a student fee structure to support programs
having higher costs; e.g. implement a differential tuition or program fees to more fully cover
I asked each unit to assess the potential impact to students and to the University if the strategy
was ultimately enacted. This broad and inclusive input was used in preparing the initial budget
reversion plans for Academic Affairs.
I compiled the information received and then provided the President and Vice President for
Finance and Administration with a proposal that outlined ways Academic Affairs could
provide the necessary reversions. These were placed in a broad context and combined
with those of other University Divisions as a framework for specific plans and actions that
would be developed after the Governor announced each institution’s reversion target for
2008 – 2009.
The University’s reduction plans were submitted to the Governor on September 26, 2008.
The categories capturing the broad strategies which included Academic Affairs proposals are
presented in the following table:
Category Description or Ongoing
Reduce administrative, faculty, staff, and wage costs through attrition, accelerated
Reduce retirements, and restructuring of operations, programs, and services; defer filling
personnel costs vacancies where feasible and bring in new hires at lower salaries. Ongoing
discretionary Reduce university programs operating support such as travel, professional
expenses development, contractual services, supplies, materials, equipment, and printing. Ongoing
Reduce or Reorganize and restructure following a thorough analysis of needs along with a
eliminate comprehensive review of all administrative, academic and support programs and
current services services. Associated costs include severance packages. Ongoing
Budget Reversions for 2008-09
On October 9, 2008 we were told that RU’s budget reversion would be 5% for this fiscal year
(approximately $2.5 million). This five percent, of course, is in addition to a five percent reduction
carried forward from the past fiscal year. Absorbing an additional 5 percent reduction will be
challenging, but we will develop strategies to accomplish this with as little impact on our core
mission as possible.
The five percent reversion target for Academic Affairs amounts to approximately $750,000 from our
current Fiscal Year budget, and that reduction will carry into the next fiscal year as well, just as the
one from last year carried forward into this year. Planning for these reversions will necessarily be
within the context of additional reversions impacting the 2009-2010 fiscal year; the Governor is
expected to announce additional reversions for the next fiscal year in mid-December. Therefore,
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we must exercise extraordinary fiscal conservatism for the remainder of this fiscal/academic year in
order to generate the largest possible budget residual to lessen the effect of the shortfall in 2009-
2010. The more we save in current budgets to create a residual we can use to pre-pay bills that
will come due in 2009-2010, the smaller will be the hole that we will have to fill next year and the
less will be the pain. Therefore, while some actions implemented during this fiscal year will be
focused on current year savings necessary to meet our five percent reversion target, other actions
implemented will need to be capable of being sustained, as the forecast for our economy is not
I assure you that providing a quality education and services to students will remain our number one
priority. To the extent possible, we will exempt and hold harmless certain key areas and functions
from budget reversions, including direct instructional costs, admissions and recruitment activities,
student advising, activities related to accreditation, assessment and mandated reporting,
development and implementation of the Core Curriculum, support of instructional needs in non-
core courses and disciplines, and implementation of strategic new programs.
I have received suggestions for budget reversions strategies from each of the vice provosts,
deans, and the University Librarian. Their strategies are incorporated in the actions below. All
members of the Council of Deans will continue to work with unit heads to explore other reduction
I have discussed this with President Kyle, but the Board of Visitors (BOV) is the approving body for
the University’s broad reversion strategies, and the BOV will consider all reversion strategies for
this fiscal year at its November meeting. However, if we are to meet our reversion target, we must
begin immediately to implement reversion strategies within Academic Affairs. Simultaneously, we
must also prepare for the possibility of an even more substantial additional reversion during the
next fiscal year.
Steps being immediately taken in Academic Affairs include the following:
There will be an immediate freeze on all international travel. Only international travel
previously approved by the President will be permitted. No new requests for international
travel will be considered. This freeze will not affect travel for study abroad or other
Although we increased Faculty Development Travel by $300 this year, due to the budget
reversions facing the University, this added $300 will now be removed from departmental
accounts. While not what we had intended, this will leave each department/school the
same level of funding for faculty travel as was available last year. Even with a reduced
amount for Faculty Development Travel, not all travel requests will be approved. The
Council of Deans has recommended guidelines for the approval of travel which I have
accepted. The guidelines are at the end of this document and will be utilized in the
evaluation of all travel requests. Final approval for all travel requests will be with the
Discretionary spending must be kept to essential items only.
Savings will be realized by reducing adjunct faculty usage. Course offerings will be
redistributed to reduce the number of under-enrolled sections of elective courses.
While we plan to continue to hire strategically, the budget reversion will reduce our ability to
hire as many faculty as we would like. Therefore, no vacant positions or planned vacant
positions (e.g. WTO participants) will be automatically backfilled. While working within
existing and forecasted budget conditions, I will continue working with deans to review
faculty hiring requests and will, to the extent possible, authorize searches having the most
immediate need. Even then, depending on the severity of next year’s cut, approved
searches may be canceled.
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This is an evolving process that may take until the BOV meeting in November before we will be in a
position to announce all the specific strategies and actions. However, during this time, I pledge to
keep the academic community informed of any new information or directives that come from the
Over the next weeks and months, we must collaborate to make significant shifts in the Academic
Affair’s budget. Obviously, this process will not be pleasant, nor will it be easy. However, we should
take some solace in remembering that mandated reversions for higher education are not
unprecedented in the Commonwealth; in fact, since 1984, we have faced similar situations numerous
times. Each time, Radford University has weathered the reversions with minimal impact upon our core
I am confident that we will work together to ride out this latest fiscal storm and will emerge as an even
stronger institution. I thank you in advance for your understanding, your cooperation, and your
leadership during these challenging times.
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Guidelines for Allocating Travel Funds during the Current Budget Reversion
These guidelines for travel are provided to assist in defining priorities. In general, the Academic
Affairs Division places importance on maintaining travel funds to support:
Instructional travel (e.g., the supervision of clinical experiences and study abroad), though
in some cases the number of faculty traveling for these purposes might be reduced.
Faculty Professional Travel directed related to scholarship
While it is understood that Chairs have the best understanding of the travel requests in
departments, guidelines for allocating travel funds may assist in setting priorities.
The primary goals for faculty professional travel related to scholarship are the following:
To promote faculty professional contributions through engagement in high quality and
nationally-recognized venues (conferences, institutes, etc.)
To support tenure-track faculty as they establish their record of professional contributions
To foster student research through collaboration with faculty
With these goals in mind, travel requests should be recommended for approval according to the
Highest priority to travel by tenure-track faculty presenting scholarship necessary to
establish their records of professional contributions
High priority to scholarship generated through collaboration between students and
High priority for faculty members attending conferences to obtain Continuing Education
Units (CEUs) requisite to maintaining their professional licenses as required for student
Priority to primary researcher of a co-authored paper or presentation (generally only
one faculty member will be approved to travel for a single presentation)
Consideration will be given to faculty participating as session chairs, respondents,
officers of organizations, proposal reviewers, etc., where possible
Requests to simply attend a conference will have the lowest priority and, in most cases,
will be denied.
While these guidelines will not account adequately for every travel request, they should help us
make the best decisions possible to support RU’s strategic priorities in a difficult budget time.
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