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SACUA seeks information, involvement in budget process for FY04

Members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) say they need more information about the budget process before deciding how best to offer input for anticipated University budget cuts for fiscal year 2004.

SACUA chair Charles F. Koopmann met with President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Paul N. Courant in separate meetings Dec. 9 and 10 and said both will continue to consult the committee on many issues, including the budget. Koopmann said he continues to be impressed with the administration's willingness to work with SACUA.

At the meeting with Courant Dec. 9, SACUA discussed, among other items, the current budget situation and how it is expected to affect the Universityboth this year and next. On Dec. 5 Gov. John Engler announced a plan that will cut higher education appropriations for state universities by 2.5 percent in an effort to balance the state budget.

After meeting with Courant, SACUA members debated the committee's involvement in offering advice and feedback for next year's probable cuts. Many said that as representatives of the faculty, SACUA at least should gather information about the budget process and be prepared to ask questions.

"We need to be informed before we can give proper input," said John Riebesell, SACUA member and associate professor of natural sciences in U-M­Dearborn's College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. "But faculty discussion might lead them to make decisions they may not make without considering some faculty issues."

Koopmann said, "The final [budget] decision is obviously going to be theirs, but they are willing to share input with us. It will be a wait-and-see as to what the dollar amounts will be and what areas they can look at to find savings. But we will be consulted when issues come up that affect different units."

Courant said U-M has made plans to absorb the mid-year loss of funds for fiscal year 2003, but that cuts likely are on the horizon for the next fiscal year's budget. Courant said he has asked all deans and administrative units to consider ways to reduce their budgets for next year.

"This is not as severe as the worst case we had anticipated," said Courant, who added that the cuts will cost the University between $7.2 million and $9.1 million. "Most of the consequences are already being felt through reductions in some expenditures and postponement of others."

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