January 13, 2009Dear Clemson:
As the General Assembly reconvenes this week to consider state tax revenues and spending, I’d like to update you on Clemson’s budget situation.
Unless there are additional mid-year cuts, the one-time actions we have taken so far should be adequate to balance this year’s budget through June 30. These include the furlough, hiring freeze, travel restrictions, construction delays and other spending cuts that you have felt at the departmental level throughout the university.
We must prepare for even deeper cuts in state funding next fiscal year, however. With state appropriations per student that are 42 percent lower than they were in 1973, significant changes are certain. By July 1, we must identify permanent solutions to this decline in state funding.
Vice presidents have submitted their priorities. The Budget Task Forces set up last month have also been hard at work finding ways to reduce spending and to increase revenue. The task force chairs have reported to me in writing each week, and I met with them as a group yesterday (January 12). I am very encouraged by the quality of the effort and the ideas they are bringing forward.
Their final reports are due by February 15. These reports will be recommendations to our larger Budget Strategy Team, which will review all options and make the final decisions on a plan for fiscal year 2009-2010. That evaluation and decision-making could take an additional month or more. We know Clemson will not be able to do everything in the future that it is doing today, and these changes will affect positions and personnel.
My message today is to remind ourselves once again not to confuse the ongoing discussion with the decision-making. Some voluntary measures will be announced in the coming weeks. How people respond to those options will help us understand the size of the challenge we face next year. Until then, no firm decisions can or will be made. When they are, we will share them with you.
I hope each of you had a warm, restoring break with friends and family over the recent holidays. If you are like me, you are ready to turn the page on 2008 and face the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and community.
Our nation, state and university face tremendous economic challenges this year. But I have learned that Clemson can meet any challenge and achieve any goal when we work together with the spirit and can-do attitude that has characterized our university for almost 120 years.
Best wishes for a great 2009.
James F. Barker, FAIA
201 Sikes Hall
Clemson, South Carolina 29634