MSU considers academic, operational cost-cutting measures

Contact: Heather Swain, Media Communications, Office: (517) 355-2262,

Oct 30, 2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. — As Michigan State University continues to shape its future and look for ways to reduce expenses while maintaining quality, efficiency and effectiveness, the MSU Board of Trustees today received a report outlining a series of recommendations that could do just that.

At its Oct. 30 meeting, the board was presented outlines from Provost Kim Wilcox and Vice President for Finance and Operations Fred Poston that are part of the university’s ongoing budget-reduction process. Wilcox told the board that he is endorsing a series of changes that have been identified at this stage of the planning process.

“We are in the early stages of a focused MSU budget reduction process,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We have committed to making that process transparent. As we saw at today’s meeting many voices will continue to be heard as we work through the process.” 

As many as 30 academic majors, specializations and other programs could be affected. It could also include the closures of two departments—the Department of Geological Sciences and the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. While communicative sciences and disorders could be closed, graduate degree programs would continue, relocated within the Department of Communication.

The MSU Board of Trustees would make the final decision on the closures.

Any changes to academic programs would follow the established academic governance system consultative process.

If actions are taken to disband a program, all students currently enrolled in that program would have the opportunity to complete their requirements for that degree.

“We understand that all programs that we offer are important,” Simon said. “We also understand that they are much higher quality than many that are offered elsewhere. And that makes this task even more difficult.”

On the nonacademic, or support, side of the university, Poston has been working with directors and other administrators, gathering information on how best to approach budget cuts while maintaining quality.

The first round of budget cuts has already been announced, going into effect in the Controller’s Office, Purchasing, the MSU Union, the Alumni Chapel and University Relations, which is undergoing a re-alignment under which 15 positions have been eliminated.

It’s anticipated that over the next two years, nearly 600 funded positions at MSU will be affected. Forty-five percent of those are positions that have been held open during the last 18 months in anticipation of budget reductions, while 36 percent would result from not re-appointing fixed-term employees and 19 percent from layoffs.

During the next two years, budgets for MSU operating units will be cut by 10 percent (approximately $50 million): 4 percent in 2009–10 and 6 percent in 2010–11. Additional reductions are possible as well.

The majority of general fund budget cuts—approximately 87 percent—will be in funded positions. The remaining 13 percent of general fund budget reductions will come from cuts to spending on supplies, services and equipment.

Both Wilcox and Poston stress that this is early in the process and more changes could be pending.

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