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SACUA wants update of budget review

It is time to revisit a 1994 study on the U-M budget and learn more about the University’s funding sources and expenditures, according to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA).

“Universities sometimes spend their resources in ways different than they publicly state they are,” Charles B. Smith, professor of pharmacology and chair of the Budget Study Committee (BSC), told the nine-member SACUA at its Sept. 9 meeting, the first of the academic year.

The BSC advises SACUA and the Senate Assembly about fiscal issues of importance to members of the University community, as identified through an analysis of the University budget. The BSC, which will hold its first meeting of the academic year later this month, was formed in 1992 through an initiative of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors to encourage faculty members to gain an understanding of the budgets of their institutions.

SACUA is particularly interested in an update of a Feb. 1994 report issued by the BSC, “The Cost of Higher Education.” In that report, the BSC concluded that “the University is at the high end with respect to expenses per student and with respect to rapidity of expenditure growth. One significant cause of increasing costs is expanding administrative staff.”

The study concluded that the financing of higher education would continue to be difficult and the administrative structure of the University should be studied with a goal of controlling growth in staffing at all administrative levels. One major difficulty in studying the University budget is obtaining reliable, consistently defined data, the report found.

SACUA members also want to learn more about U-M’s new prescription drug program and the University’s plan for the future of benefits for U-M employees.

“It will be very beneficial to the committee to have a better understanding of the budget,” said Prof. Stan Berent, a SACUA member, chief psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Neuropsychology Division. “What is the University’s plan, and where do the resources come from and where do they go?”


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