October 30, 2008Dear Clemson:
I write to update you on the budget situation. Last week, the General Assembly passed an amended version of its appropriation act for 2008-2009. The cut to our state funds is about what we anticipated – nearly $25 million in total cuts, with the very real possibility that there will be more before the end of the fiscal year. With the latest budget cuts, our per-student funding is 32 percent less than it was in 1981, adjusted for inflation. At this level of state funding, it is not possible to maintain every service and activity. So here is how we are proceeding.
The team I chair met for two full days this week with Vice Presidents and division heads, reviewing virtually every line item in every unit’s budget in order of their priorities. We also reviewed the comments many of you submitted to the web site, or sent to me directly. I expect it will take us another couple of weeks to thoroughly study all the options and develop a plan to manage the immediate crisis and begin to make strategic long-term decisions that will position Clemson to emerge as a stronger university.
Hundreds of you answered our call for ideas on ways to remain focused on Clemson’s mission while responding to the economic downturn. I appreciate that response. There are some good ideas that individuals and departments can begin using right now to save energy, save time, save money, save on paper and supplies and so forth.
While not every idea is workable, the dialog has been helpful. What I am hearing from faculty, staff and students is that every individual and every family is being touched by today’s economic slowdown. Yet there is a real determination not to undo the progress we’ve made as an institution over the past seven years.
I was inspired by an email I received this week from a staff member who wrote: “When I decided to move to Clemson it was in large part because of what I saw in the Clemson ‘can-do’ spirit. . . . I am proud of Clemson and know that we can get through this, but we need to buck ourselves up – remind ourselves of our heritage. We are Tigers and we are tough.”