President Michael F. Adams on state budget shortfalls
Q: How do state revenue projections affect UGA?
A: In many ways they’re one and the same. We are owned by the state. Our main mission is to serve the state. We prosper when the state prospers and we suffer when the state suffers.
Q: What measures has UGA taken to reduce its expenditures?
A: First of all, we saw this coming. We have excellent leadership in Tim Burgess, the senior vice president for finance and administration, who formerly managed the state budget as director of the Office of Planning and Budget. We began last year to set aside some money to see us through; the state now allows us to carry forward two percent of our state allotment and we did some of that. We have slowed down hiring and tried to get people to be especially prudent about expenditures in areas like travel, subscriptions and utilities.
Q: How will the reductions affect academic programs and opportunities for students?
A: Thus far the impact has been minimal, in that we are offering about the same number of classes and sections that we were able to offer last year. But if this downturn persists, or if the cuts become greater than the six percent we are now prepared to absorb, then things around here could get pretty dicey. Of our core educational and general budget, 81 percent is people. They are both our greatest strength and the group to whom we owe the utmost loyalty. Serving students and protecting jobs are our current top priorities.
Q: Do you anticipate faculty or staff layoffs?
A: I don’t right now. I’ve only done that once in my career as a president, and I don’t want to do it again. But the potential cuts could become so onerous that we have no other choice.
Q: Will tuition be increased to compensate for the decline in state funding?
A: Tuition needs to go up regardless of the state budget situation. We are now right at the bottom of the Southern Regional Education Board flagships in tuition costs, and that inhibits our ability to pay faculty and staff at a level that we should or where we were only a few years ago. I’ve said numerous times that I don’t want to be at the top of that list, but I don’t want to be at the bottom, either. We need to be somewhere in the middle.