A little over a week ago, we announced to the campus several aspects of our 2016-2017 operating and capital budget. The groundwork has begun for further success on our priorities — making greater progress on the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan — with a specific focus on bolstering student success and academic excellence.
The realignment – a part of the budget the Board will consider in June – is designed to generate nearly $6 million in savings in the coming year. Those savings will go toward more than $40 million in budget needs for strategic investments in areas such as advising and counseling, student success initiatives, competitive compensation for faculty and staff, increased costs for utilities and other fixed costs, increases in institutional student aid, as well as offsetting the decrease in state appropriations we face in the coming year.
As part of this important process, we pledge to be open and transparent with the campus community. To that end, we have added a wealth of information, updates, and frequently asked questions to the UK4KY website. This resource illustrates our vision, strategy and the processes we are starting to reach our ambitious goals, for our students and the Commonwealth that we serve.
I encourage you to visit this site. We will update it regularly and use it as an additional platform to engage with the campus community.
With the steps outlined so far, we’ve already made great progress. And though higher education finance is, without doubt, complex and multifaceted, the rationale that undergirds it is not dissimilar from personal financing.
Think about it this way:
Everyone makes personal financial choices in the course of a given day or month, and on an annual basis. We weigh our financial position, obligations, priorities, needs, and aspirations. We all make tough decisions on how to balance rent/mortgage payments, utilities, bills, food, caring for family, and recreation.
We build a budget to match our financial capacity with spending priorities for the next year and beyond.
Universities go through a similar process each year when we build our budget. At the University of Kentucky, we carefully analyze our resources and match them to our goals – particularly our most important goal of helping students succeed in an institution devoted to academic excellence.
We match money to mission.
To get there, we identify budget demands and spending obligations, utilities and other fixed costs, “mortgage-like” payments on facilities, salaries for our workforce, additional student financial aid, and income sources like tuition revenue, private gifts, and state appropriations, among others.
We consider the resources and opportunities we have to meet these priorities; asking, as many must do: "Where can we cut back?" We brainstorm where we can better align resources to support our goals.
This is an annual process for our institution. As the University for Kentucky, our priorities are our students, exploring and strengthening our understanding of the world through research and discovery, and serving the Commonwealth to which we’ve been committed to for more than 150 years.
We have built incredible momentum in the last several years. We are educating more students, treating more patients, and providing more service than at any time in our 150-year history.
But we can, must, and will do more.
Our priorities are guided by the Strategic Plan, and we are focusing on four key principles:
- Access and affordability,
- Supporting our top faculty and staff with competitive compensation,
- No across the board cuts, and
- Building a diverse and inclusive community.
Under the leadership of President Capilouto, we know we can do even more to help our students succeed. There are approximately 150 universities in the country with six-year graduation rates that exceed 70 percent. We want to be one of them.
Our efforts are centered upon doing absolutely everything we can—allocating every resource, refocusing every structure—to help enhance student success at the University of Kentucky.
This is our mission and vision. It’s why we are here.
Eric N. Monday