Another round of UA Transformation cuts is all but certain at this point

Kudos to the Arizona Daily Star’s Becky Pallack for this report on how the University of Arizona would approach another round of budget cuts, if such a realization became reality (also check out Pallack’s blog, The Campus Correspondent, which is conveniently located on the WatchCat’s blogroll).

Pallack includes this toward the end of her post:

“With all of that in mind, the UA’s strategy for budget planning goes like this:

1. The UA is going to stop doing things that “are not core to the unit’s mission.” You’ve probably heard Shelton say, “We’ve got to do less with less.”

2. The UA is really glad it has that stimulus money, but knows it can’t last. The gap will be made up with a combination of reduced spending and new revenue.

3. About that reduced spending: The UA is going to keep going with the Transformation Plan.

4. About that new revenue: The UA is proposing to raise tuition and fees. Plus, it wants to further differentiate tuition. That means it’ll cost more to go to medical school than it does to go to teacher school. And it’ll cost less to earn a UA degree offered at a community college or satellite campus than it does to earn a degree offered at the main campus.

Lots of units around campus are doing fund-raising to replace some state money, too.

5. The UA isn’t counting on any increases in state support, but the model in this handout also assumes no further cuts.”

#2 should be a major concern for all those associated with Arizona’s public universities. After all, that’s the big impending doom that keeps hanging around budget talks like an elephant in the room. As has been said both here and elsewhere, that federal stimulus money can only protect the universities from the slashing wrath of the State Legislature for so long.

#4 is a fairly big deal was well, although it’s something that we’ve all known has been coming for some time

And that lands us on #3. Ah, good ol’ UA Transformation Plan, I wish I could quit you (the UA Transformation is Jake Gyllenhaal, by the way). Circle #3, bold it, hang it up and throw darts at it.

True, the UA Transformation Plan was presumably going to keep going ever since the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee OK’d a number of White Papers in December 2008, but the continuing of the Transformation means something different to me—It seems to me that by “continuing,” the UA actually means “altering” to be even more drastic “fiscally responsible”.

Ever since UA President Robert Shelton’s “We’re all screwed!” memo hit cyberspace, the WatchCat has been predicting an even-more-devastating Round 2 of the Transformation. Now it’s all but confirmed. And that should concern A LOT of people.

It’s worth noting that by a Round 2, I don’t necessarily mean a whole new round of White Paper suggestions and the like, just that the current Implementation Phase may (make that, will) take on an even more drastic penny-pinching model—I would bet, even in addition to surcharges to certain degree programs.

Of course, the news here is actually news that we’ve known since the dawn of the Transformation: Pay more, get less.

Good fodder for blog news. Bad, bad, bad for, well, everyone else.

Check out the handout, if you wish.

Also, check out the Desert Lamp’s take on Pallack’s post.


5 responses to “Another round of UA Transformation cuts is all but certain at this point

  1. “Ever since UA President Robert Shelton’s “We’re all screwed!” memo hit cyberspace, the WatchCat has been predicting an even-more-devastating Round 2 of the Transformation.”

    What, exactly, is the definition of “devastating” in this context? Examples are helpful.

  2. That’s a fair question. The short answer is, I don’t know because nobody knows, aside from maybe Shelton and Hay (and it’s likely even they may not know the entire magnitude at this point).

    That’s the problem with an administration who’s been so secretive and anti-transparent is that for much of cryptic info we are given, we are only able to take from it vagaries. I feel in some cases, they are valuable vagaries, but they are vagaries nonetheless.

    The overall of what I mean by “devastating,” though, is this: We all remember the uncertainty and fear that started to take over the academic aspect of the campus at the inception of the UA Transformation (more specifically, the turning in of the White Papers).

    I read every single White Paper proposal, and most of them seemed to take on the attitude of, “Well, this is annoying that my college/school is going to get trashed, but eh, we’ll survive.” This attitude has obviously been changing to a more serious tone over the last, I would say, nine or ten months.

    Now, what I mean by “even more devastating” is that there may be none spared next time around, when the federal stimulus money runs dry in 2011. Whereas what I call “round 1” of the Transformation cuts largely focused on dismantling a few colleges, consolidating many others and largely sparing many aspects of the sciences (thus the tension between the sciences and the social sciences and the shift of UA academia to a research institute rather than an instructional one), “round 2,” I suspect, will be a “take no prisoners” desperation free-for-all of cutting.

    For example, I expect this to go far beyond surcharges for individual programs. After the federal stimulus money runs out in 2011, the UA will have exhausted its federal money, it will know that it can’t count on state money, it will have drastically risen tuition (around 30 percent) and carried out many of the plans of the cuts from “round one” of the Transformation.

    Thus, they will be faced with no choice but to do the one thing they’ve been trying to avoid since Fall 2008. One thing Shelton almost always says when he’s discussing the Transformation is that the upper administration chose to go through the steps of the Transformation in order to preserve a lot of the university (while I take this with a grain of salt, I tend to believe this, with the small caveat that they did it mostly to preserve the sciences) instead of doing across-the-board cuts.

    Mark my words: In 2011 and 2012, the UA will make massive across-the-board cuts because most other avenues will have been exhausted and they will be forced to do so.

    These massive across-the-board cuts in 2011 and 2012 are what I believe will be “round two” of the Transformation. They will be what is “devastating”

    Shelton always says that “the quickest way to mediocrity is to carry out across-the-board cuts.” Well, something tells me we’re going to find out soon.

    It’s not a perfect answer to your question, but in short, everyone’s going to have to cut probably somewhere between 5 and 10 percent (some much more), in addition to whatever they’re cutting for “round one,” in order to keep the university afloat in 2011 and 2012.

    Does this make sense?

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