Following a 48 percent reduction in state funding for the upcoming fiscal year, the largest cutback in UNH's history, administrators implemented plans to cut $33 million from the university's budget this fall.
To minimize the impact on tuition and jobs, UNH instituted a hiring freeze, cut $10 million in benefits to staff and offered retirement incentive plans. Tuition for in-state students was increased by $650, which UNH associate vice president for finance David Proulx '92, '00G describes as a "very last resort." Had USNH forced students to shoulder the full burden of the state cut, in-state tuition would have increased by $4,650, "something that was obviously not going to happen," he says.
But with the state's contribution now at just 6 percent, cutting UNH's budget "can't be a permanent solution," Proulx says. "We need to be smarter about what we do, consolidate operations and not do things that are no longer relevant."
A strategic review committee appointed by President Mark Huddleston is studying the creation of two new schools that would offer undergraduate and graduate degrees: Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, and Earth and Environment. A separate review of graduate programs and the Graduate School is also underway to "make sure we're offering the right graduate programs, at the right price, at the right cost," says Proulx.
UNH's 10-year strategic plan calls for increasing revenue, but efforts are now on a fast track, Proulx says. They include increased enrollment in the January Term and summer session, a possible three-year undergraduate degree, more online and hybrid courses, increased international enrollment and opportunities for students to study abroad, new professional and certificate programs, and additional joint degrees, such as the new J.D.-MBA offered with the UNH School of Law.
Enrollment, which provides UNH's major source of revenue, is 15,408 undergraduate and graduate students at Durham and Manchester this fall, a slight increase from last fall's 15,352. A new scholarship program launched this spring raised $930,000 (see Page 16), and UNH is in the planning phase of a comprehensive, universitywide campaign.
USNH is underwriting the cash outlays offered in the retirement incentive packages, which makes them money-savers for the university, especially when the positions can be left vacant or new employees are hired at lower salaries. Thirty-seven staff employees took a retirement incentive plan with a deadline of July 1. Three other plans are being offered to faculty and staff, with deadlines of Nov. 1 and Feb. 1; totals were not available yet for the number of staff and faculty accepting the offers. "We need about 60 to 70 more participants" to avoid additional layoffs, says Proulx. As of early September, 15 staff employees had been laid off.
"We must think more like a private university," Proulx adds, "pricing to market demand, using technology to our advantage, increasing private giving and being flexible. We are not structured to make quick, responsive decisions—few public colleges are—and we need to change that."Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents