SLU faces fiscal realities

In recent months, Saint Louis University has been undergoing
challenges in order to meet the FY05 budget. The pressure of
cutting $9.1 million from the $235 million budget has been spread
across the University, with administration, deans and chairs all
asked to consider means of cutting back.

In his November monthly message, University President Lawrence
Biondi, S.J., brought the budget cuts to the attention of students
and faculty.

“This year’s process poses significant challenges to us in
developing a balanced budget as we continue to deal with rising
employee benefit costs, an endowment still weakened by the
economy’s poor performance, as well as the need to decrease [the
Health Sciences Center’s] endowment spending and keep tuition-rate
increases moderate, so that SLU continues to compete nationally,”
Biondi said in his message.

The endowment hit a low of $606 million in March 2003. It has
since risen to slightly more than $700 million, but the amount of
money given to the budget from the endowment is only $19.4 million.
Each year, 5.75 percent of the endowment contributes to the budget.
Due to stock market activity, however, the value of the endowment
had declined. The University determines this contribution by taking
5.75 percent of the average of the last 12 quarters of
earnings.

To combat the budget crunch, several steps have been taken. Last
semester Information Technology Services said it would possibly
look to outsource. This semester, the computer science departments
in both the College of Arts and Sciences and Parks College of
Engineering and Aviation were combined.

Under more scrutiny was the decision to ask administrative staff
to voluntarily take a reduced work week, working 32 hours instead
of 40. In addition, the deans of each college and school were asked
by Provost Joe Weixlmann, Ph.D., to submit a proposal pertaining to
how they would cut costs within their prospective part of the
University by March 1. Some of these cuts could include combining
classes that are not full and not filling faculty positions that
are currently open.

“The time has come for all of us to ‘think outside the box’ in
everything that we do; to look for ways we can save money and
increase revenues,” Biondi said in the November message. “We are
not facing a financial crisis, but the financial realities … will
force us to make some serious decisions in the next few weeks about
where we are as a University and where we are headed.”