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March 31, 2010

State of the University Address canceled


Colleagues,

Regretfully, I've decided to cancel the 2010 State of the University Address, which had been scheduled for Thursday, April 1. Each year I look forward to discussing our best thoughts and ideas for moving the University forward in this forum. I am currently unable to speak audibly for extended periods of time, and while I'm hopeful that my voice will return to full capacity soon, I needed to make this decision early in order to give everyone sufficient notice—especially our colleagues from outside the Twin Cities. 

Since the spring semester ends next month, the speech will not be rescheduled. Instead, I will share my remarks with you in written form online next week. I also plan to find additional opportunities to communicate with you—preferably face to face—in the near future. In the meantime, thank you for your tremendous work on behalf of the University. 

Sincerely,

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Robert H. Bruininks 
President

March 26, 2010

Budget Update and State of the University Address


As many of you know by now, on Thursday, March 25, the Faculty Senate voted 130 to 26 in favor of a temporary, one-year reduction in faculty salary of 1.15 percent for fiscal year 2011 (July 2010 through June 2011). This was the essential first step toward implementing the compensation plan for all employees outlined in my March 16 budget message and one of many critical pieces of the plan balancing the University's budget for the coming year. 

Additional details about the plan and implementation can be found on the Office of Human Resources frequently asked questions page. I appreciate the willingness of University faculty to accept a reduction in their pay as part of the solution to our short-term budget challenges, and while I understand that clear differences of opinion exist on how best to administer such a reduction, I am grateful that the Faculty Senate acted now in favor of this plan, which balances our immediate budget needs with the short- and long-term impacts on our workforce.  

I also want to assure the University community that our long-term planning efforts continue unabated, even when immediate pressures draw our attention to the details of our short-term plans. Both long-term planning and short-term planning happen simultaneously, in real time and in response to internal, state and federal circumstances that change almost daily. I know that many of you are impatient for details on the plan for the next biennium. I will share more about our long-term planning in the State of the University Address next Thursday, but it is important to be clear that no single solution will address all of our future financial concerns. The future will demand reductions, reinvestments, reform, and redesign--and although central administration must change, as well, our efforts must begin to take place within local units, colleges, and campuses. To be sustainable, these local transformations must occur organically, as responsible faculty, staff, and administrators set priorities about their work together, with a long view of the challenges they, and the University, will likely face in coming years.

To this end, I invite you to join me for the State of the University Address and to follow the progress of our planning discussions on this site, through the minutes of the various employee leadership groups on our campuses, and through the meetings and minutes of the University's Board of Regents. Stay informed and stay engaged--we need you! 

Sincerely,

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Robert H. Bruininks 
President

March 23, 2010

2010 State of the University Address


[Updated April 1, 2010: The 2010 State of the University Address has been canceled. Details regarding the cancellation can be found here.]

Please join me next week for the 2010 State of the University Address.

When: 3. p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2010 
Where: Coffman Memorial Union Theater, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis

A brief question-and-answer period will follow the address. To watch online, please visit www.umn.edu/pres/stateoftheu2010.html

This address will also be broadcast to all campuses. 

Crookston: 220 Dowell Hall 
Duluth: 173 Kirby Plaza 
Morris: Science Auditorium 
Rochester: Room 398 

Disability accommodations will be provided upon request. Please email University Relations, intcomm@umn.edu for more information.

March 16, 2010

Budget Update: Compensation Planning


Dear Colleagues,

In January, I shared with you the sobering fiscal realities the University of Minnesota faces as a result of the global economic downturn and the state's significant budget shortfall through the next biennium. As expected, the governor's February 15th budget recommendation included an additional cut of $36 million to the University of Minnesota's budget. This comes on the heels of an $80 million cut last year and erases 10 years of incremental state funding increases, reducing our state funding base to the lowest level since 2001 ($591 million). The new proposed state cut and our ongoing financial obligations create a total budget shortfall of $132.2 million for 2010-11:
  
  • 44 percent ($59 million) of this shortfall results from increased annual costs, consisting of $32 million to address compensation, including a 2 percent compensation pool increase and payments to the fringe pool; and $27 million to support financial aid and scholarship commitments, academic investments, facilities costs, and other essential expenditures.
  • 31 percent ($41 million) results from a 27th pay period necessitated by the payroll calendar every 11 years. (The impact of this cyclical expense was magnified by the economic downturn and deep state budget cuts; nevertheless, a long-term plan to resolve this problem on an ongoing basis will be in place within the next year.)
  • 25 percent ($32.2 million) results from the governor's proposed budget cut. (The actual number here is smaller than the governor's reduction of $36 million due to this year's appropriation being $3.9 million lower than next year's appropriation; the governor was required to reduce from next year's larger number.)
As a result, the leadership of the University has spent the past several months modeling a number of solutions to the challenges related to compensating our employees. After extensive analysis and discussion, we narrowed the alternative compensation options to a proposed plan, and last month, we began to consult with the University community--including the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs, the Senate Committee on Finance and Planning, the Faculty Consultative Committee, the Civil Service Committee, the Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators, and our union-represented faculty and staff. On March 4, we presented the initial plan to the entire University Senate for consultation. A number of robust discussions following that meeting have yielded a new option, which we believe strikes a good balance between meeting our immediate budget objectives and impacting all of our employees in a moderate and equitable way. 

Under this new plan, proposed by faculty leaders late last week, all employees systemwide would take the equivalent of a 1.15 percent decrease in pay for fiscal year 2011 (FY11), July 2010 through June 2011. As proposed, this is a temporary reduction for FY11 only and would be implemented differently based on employee group:
  
  • In the case of hourly (civil service and union-represented staff) employees, this reduction in pay would be implemented in the form of a mandatory, three-day furlough during the last week of December to facilitate a weeklong shutdown of our campuses (except essential facilities and services) in order to reduce energy and operating costs with minimal disruption to students. A three-day furlough is roughly equal to the 1.15 percent decrease in pay that staff groups will be asked to absorb. Hourly employees would not be expected to work hours for which their pay has been reduced.
  • All other employee groups, including all faculty and academic professional and administrative (P&A) employees, would see a 1.15 percent reduction in pay with no reduction in their assigned duties. These employee groups would be expected to address with their supervisor or responsible administrator how their duties will be accomplished during the campus shutdown in late December.
  • Senior administrators systemwide (including deans, associate and assistant vice presidents, vice provosts, vice presidents, vice chancellors, chancellors, senior vice presidents, and the president) would take an additional 1.15 percent decrease in pay, bringing their total temporary reduction in pay to 2.3 percent.
  • Additional voluntary furlough days would be available to all employees (not to exceed the equivalent of a 10-day reduction in pay).
  • The savings realized by these reductions in pay will remain in the appropriate campuses, colleges, or units.
It is important to consider this plan in the context of the overall budget plan for next year and the financial outlook for 2012 and 2013. As referenced above, next year's budget plan includes funds to pay the 27th pay period for all eligible employees and to offer a 2 percent compensation pool. This compensation pool delivers a 2 percent increase for all union-represented staff employees and all civil service employees beginning with the new pay year this summer. It also provides for increases determined at the collegiate or unit level for faculty and academic professional and administrative employees, effective January 2011. A 2 percent compensation increase is in line with increases provided to state employees and many local units of government. The six-month delay in compensation increases for faculty and P&A employees provides substantial savings to the colleges and units while still enabling us to offer permanent increases in base compensation. 

One additional note about process: You may be aware that the Faculty Senate must vote to approve any proposed reduction in faculty pay. For that reason, the Faculty Senate will take up this proposal at a special meeting on Thursday, March 25, and will be asked to approve a temporary reduction in salary of 1.15 percent for faculty next year. It should be noted that those faculty members currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement are not impacted by this vote, and separate discussions are underway with them. If the faculty pay reduction is approved, we will proceed to implement the plan as outlined. If there is not a vote in support of a reduction in pay for faculty, our budget plan going forward will necessarily include deeper college- and unit-level cuts, which will inevitably lead to additional job losses. 

All of the options we explored involved serious trade-offs, especially when facing the real prospect of more budget cuts, which may impose additional limits on our ability to compensate our employees in the next biennium. I understand that this plan poses administrative and personal challenges for all of us, but it also moderates the impact of necessary one-time budget cuts on any one unit or employee group, retains and rewards hard-working colleagues over the long term, enables us to maintain our quality and competitiveness, helps to avoid additional unplanned job losses, and reduces our budget challenge to a much more manageable sum.

The Office of Human Resources has begun to address many of your questions and concerns in these frequently asked questions (FAQ). We will continue to refine and expand the FAQ as the compensation and budget plans roll out and new questions arise. I want to assure you that we are working hard to address our current and long-term budget challenges. Thank you once again for all of your hard work--it is my privilege to serve with you. 

Sincerely,

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Robert H. Bruininks 
President