“We’ve got to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Anthony Wagner, Temple’s chief financial officer.
For Wagner, planning for the worst means cutting $40 million, 5 percent from the 2009-2010 operating budget. Temple has already cut more than $11 million from its current budget after the commonwealth reduced appropriations twice in the past six months.
“The way we came about that number is the incredible uncertainty right now,” Wagner said. “The state’s situation is pretty dire.”
The state will not set a final budget until the summer, and Wagner said Temple “doesn’t have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for people to act.”
In an open letter to the university, President Ann Weaver Hart asks the Temple community to pull together during these tough economic times and budget cuts.
“These actions will require creativity as well as sacrifice. They will only be effective if the entire Temple community remains focused on the commitment to access and excellence as more than just a theme or slogan but as the core value that drives all of the university’s activities.”
Wagner said Temple needs to be prepared for all of the economic fallout, whatever it may be.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about revenues, so we can control expenditures,” he said.
With respect to tuition as a form of revenue, Wagner said the Board of Trustees does not want to increase the amount of debt students have.
“The trustees and senior administration are aware that our students and families are very affected by this economic downturn, and we want to keep tuition manageable,” he said. “That is one of our main goals.”
With previous cuts, the university instituted a hiring freeze, suspended non-essential out-of-state travel and canceled a 2 percent inflationary increase for non-compensation related costs.
In Hart’s letter, salaries for non-collective bargaining employees will remain at their current level through fiscal year 2009-2010. Other than that, Wagner said specifics can’t be given on where else cuts will be made.
An offer that was made to the Temple Association of University Professionals, which the university is currently negotiating with regarding a new contract, was pulled from the bargaining table and reevaluated.
“We put another offer on the table on Friday,” Wagner said. “Not as large as the one that was offered before.”
Current construction projects, such as the School of Medicine, the renovation of the Baptist Temple and the Boyer College of Music and Dance, will remain on track. The move-in for Alter Hall and the new building for the Tyler School of Art will continue unaffected.
Hart’s letter stresses that fundraising for these projects is not complete and will need to continue.
Temple’s current fundraising campaign has made great strides, she said, but the majority of the money pledged will be paid over time and dedicated to specific projects.
The budget cut has forced the university to reduce spending for Temple’s 125th anniversary celebration.
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.