October 25, 2014

Slight drop in UNL enrollment will lead to slight budget cut

A slight drop in enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will trigger a slight cut in the budget.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said in his State of the University Address that university leaders will be forced to make the cuts, because enrollment on the Lincoln campus dropped by 1.6%.

“Because of the enrollment decline and an increase in other fixed costs, we have a deficit of approximately $6 million. A portion of that deficit we have covered by withholding a small part of the salary increase authorized by the Regents. I am confident that with focus we have the will and the means to significantly increase enrollment for next year, beginning in the Fall of 2013. This would turn this deficit from being a permanent structural demand for funds into a cash flow issue of one-year dimension. Thus the Vice Chancellors and I have determined not to initiate our budget reduction process but rather to spread the deficit across all units by imposing a temporary reduction. Units may use one-time funds to cover the deficit this year with the expectation that enhanced enrollment next year would avoid making these reductions permanent. So I will be asking each Vice Chancellor Division to reduce its expenditures by one-half of 1 percent.”

The Board of Regents had authorized a 2.5% salary increase for faculty and staff.

“The combination of the unspent salary funds and the distributed reductions account for approximately $4 of the $6 million deficit. The remainder will be covered at the campus level, reducing our ability temporarily to respond to important opportunities. Once we fund this deficit out of future enrollment growth, we intend to set aside a percentage of any increased revenue from enrollment to make targeted investments in our highest priority programs and in those units that have contributed to our growth goals.”

Enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall was 24,207, down nearly 400 students from the fall of 2011. Despite the slight drop, Perlman said he remains committed to his ambitious goal of growing student enrollment at UNL to 30,000 by 2017.

Perlman stated that only through enrollment growth can the university become the university the state of Nebraska envisions.

“Size matters. For our undergraduate program, enhancing the size of the student body and the faculty provide greater opportunities for students to find their niche, to locate a mentor who can direct them to their passion, to explore a wider set of opportunities than they can imagine when they graduate from high school. Many of us can look back over our career and acknowledge the almost random way in which we discovered our own internal passions and the path to outward expression of them.

We can serve our students better if we grow in size. I am aware that there are some Nebraska families who worry that UNL may be already too large or too ambitious for their son or daughter. I would urge them to reconsider and to focus rather on what it will take for their son or daughter to be successful in their adult lives. The world is a big place and whether they return to a small Nebraska town or a larger venue, they will have to engage with the larger world beyond. Each of these students represents a story yet untold and each of these students will be the author of their own story. Wherever they locate, to be successful they will have to think big-to think beyond the restraints of their current imagination, beyond their current city limits, and beyond the boundaries of their current circumstances. UNL may not be the right place for every student but those who avoid us because they think we are too big, run the risk of a lifetime of thinking too small.”

Perlman added that “additional resources from increased enrollment are the resources needed to expand our capacity.”

Click here for a link to Perlman’s address.