Recession hits UMass Boston

Edson Bueno

The global financial turmoil has hit UMass Boston’s budget. Massachusetts, as well as UMass Boston, set their fiscal budget in July 1st 2008. In the first quarter of this fiscal year (September), Massachusetts’s revenue was short $223 million. Governor Deval Patrick believes this shortfall is a signal for worse news and directed the Secretary of Administration and Finance to revised the revenue estimate. In the revision, the total predicted revenue equates to a $1.4 gap in the state budget. In October 15, 2008, Governor Patrick announced a plan close the $1.4 billion budget gap by cutting back on spending and by generating new revenue sources. So what does this mean to UMass Boston?

UMass Boston’s fiscal budget covers the Fall 08 and Spring 09 semester. There will be a 5% ($5.5 million) reduction for the remaining fiscal year (November to June30). UMass Boston’s reduction strategy is to cut spending and to use a portion of the university’s trust fund reserves. UMass Boston will draw 2.5% ($2.75 million) from its trust fund; the remaining 2.5% ($2.75million) will be adjusted out of the current budget. Suggestions on how to reduce the budget came from five work groups organized in Operations, Finance, Human Resources, Energy, and an Academic workgroup.

In an interview with Ellen M. O’Connor, UMass Boston’s Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance, O’Connor said that the unwelcome reduction will not take away from the current financial aid nor will it increase current enrollment fees. There will likely be an additional 8% to 9% reduction for next years fiscal budget of 2010. O’Conner outlined the remaining 2.5% reduction of the current budget which is divided in eight areas:

$300,000 in heating, cooling, and other energy reductions; $500,000 in budget adjustments through project financing; $300,000 in hiring for vacant positions

$100,000 reduction in overtime; $300,000 reducing use of temporary, non-benefited employees; $750,000 reduction in non-personnel expenses; $400,000 in staff salaries shifted permanently from state funding to trust funds; and $100,000 reduction in program initiatives

The remaining reduction of 2.5% ($2.75 million) will not deviate from UMass’ Strategic Plan. This plan increases student access and success, attract and sustain highly effective faculty, creates a physical environment that supports teaching, learning, and research, and works to enhance the community-campus engagement through improved organizational structures.

In light of the recession, some students are choosing prolong their education career while others are “knocking on wood and crossing their fingers.” Predictions have been made that more new students will choose to enroll in UMass Boston instead of the other private universities in the Boston area because of university’s comparable quality at affordable rates.