December 5, 2008Dear Clemson:
I need to update you on our budget situation, which was made even more challenging by yesterday’s (Dec.10) announcement from the state Board of Economic Advisors. State revenue projections have been cut by another $229.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1. The Budget and Control Board meets today (Dec. 11) to determine if additional across-the-board cuts are to be mandated for agencies and institutions. We expect that to happen.
Although this action will change the size of our challenge, it does not change our general approach – which is to significantly reduce current year expenditures but focus most of our time and energy on developing strategic, long-term solutions for next fiscal year and beyond. We are accomplishing the first part of our objective through actions such as a hiring freeze, furlough, delaying construction projects, eliminating non-essential travel and many vacant positions. And we have just appointed 11 task forces to begin work on longer-term solutions.
As we go forward, and begin looking toward next year, I ask you to remember a few things:
• You are aware that some state agencies and universities have enacted reductions in force in the current year. Any RIF at Clemson must be made in accordance with University policy and under a plan approved in advance by the state. This and all other options are on the table. I need to be candid in acknowledging this to you today.
• The 11 budget task forces we announced last week have begun their work in a very energetic and positive way. We have almost 100 people out there brainstorming creative ways to save, restructure and generate revenue in very focused and targeted areas to fund our road map priorities. We used our good planning process to direct investments in good years, and it will guide us now in responding to lean times. At the same time, the Budget Strategy Team I chair is continuing to look for university-wide strategies to help. We expect to be able to announce details of a PSA early-retirement program and a university-wide voluntary reduction-in-time program in early 2009.
• You will hear a lot of rumors over the next few months, because a lot of ideas are under discussion. We are being as open as we can to hearing and considering those ideas. But please don’t confuse the discussion with the decision. We do not have a definite plan for 2009-2010. When we do have one, I will share it with you.
As we said a final goodbye on Monday to R.C. Edwards, I was reminded once again of the monumental challenges he faced as president of Clemson University. He saved our campus from being flooded by Lake Hartwell. He set us on the path to becoming a respected, relevant and inclusive research university.
In the face of today’s challenges, we are still determined to continue to make progress on that journey, with your help, and I thank you for it.