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Steps outlined for budget planning process

Image with caption: Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

Jeffrey P.Gold, M.D., chancellor of UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, sent this message to the UNMC community on Friday, June 19:

Dear UNMC Faculty and Staff:

As University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter shared today, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and our partner institutions in Lincoln, Kearney and Omaha will be subject to budget reductions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget assumptions and proposals to move forward presented by President Carter today will be formally shared with our Board of Regents at their upcoming scheduled meeting on June 26.

Since our transition into remote teaching, learning and working mode in mid-March, university leadership understood that a prolonged, unmitigated spread of this virus would inevitably impact the financial health of the NU System and our campus.

We did not shy away from such a scenario months ago. We planned and implemented change. As a result, we are now in a better position to mitigate the financial effects of this pandemic compared to many of our national peer institutions.

As you may recall, I promised during recent Chancellor Forums to provide timely information and transparency as we navigate this challenge. To fulfill that commitment, I have laid out below the current status of our budget planning process as it relates to the NU System's announcement, as well as our own path forward, in the clearest possible terms.

  • As President Carter explained in his announcement, the NU System faces a projected shortfall of $43 million over the next three years. In other words, we collectively must cut permanent spending by 4.3 percent.
  • For UNMC, that will mean a 2.9 percent total budget cut by the end of the 2022-23 year, or a little over $6.5 million. We will attempt to balance these reductions over the upcoming three years, knowing that a dollar saved today relieves the pressure on dollars that must be saved tomorrow.
  • The impact on the important auxiliary functions of the campus (parking, housing, events, etc.) will also be significant, estimated to be $1.0 million, and will therefore need to effect reductions to maintain a balanced budget.
  • UNMC's budget reductions will be addressed in a tiered approach over the course of three years. The plan calls for growing our revenue and simultaneously reducing UNMC's operational budget. We will be making reductions to academic programs and staff reductions as a last resort.
  • Over the past months our campus has developed multiple planning models for the ensuing years based upon several different sets of assumptions and current financial considerations.
  • This approach is made possible by measures we have already taken, including identified growth strategies, eliminating unfilled positions, making available a voluntary FTE reduction program, the NU System's two-year tuition freeze, and growing enrollment through innovative student recruitment programs such as Nebraska Promise and a host of other UNMC programs.
  • In terms of next steps, UNMC vice chancellors, deans, and directors will use their appropriate budget templates and meet with faculty, staff, and students to finalize their budgets for the next three years.
  • Additional details will be made available to the UNMC community in the days leading up to and through the June 26 Board of Regents meeting. I encourage you to share any questions you may have to unmcpr@unmc.edu. Your feedback will play a crucial role in allowing us to better understand the needs of our community and how we move forward.

Surely, there will be difficult conversations ahead, but I believe the strategy that I have shared with you today presents us a future of growth and continued success -- not a future of reductions and cuts.

Through each new challenge the pandemic presents, we will continue to provide a top-tier educational experience for our students as we pursue our research and community engagement mission. I truly believe that our agile, innovative institution is uniquely prepared to use this moment to grow enrollment, ensure student success, expand our research enterprise, and philanthropic support. The more we set our sights on growth, the better equipped we will be to preserve academic programs, preserve employment for our faculty and staff, and be good stewards of the taxpayer, philanthropic and research dollars that support much of what we do.

More than five months into UNMC's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the faculty, staff, and students in our community have displayed a level of ingenuity, grit and resilience that I am inspired by each day.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the success of this university and to each other.

Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

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