UH Manoa campus budget update from Chancellor Hinshaw

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Aug 13, 2009

The following message was sent to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa community by Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw:

Aloha! As we prepare for the upcoming fall semester, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa faces a budget crisis that will be felt by all of our faculty, staff and students. As we are certainly aware, the citizens of the State of Hawaiʻi, along with people around the world, are dealing with financial challenges that are also heavily impacting our university.

For the current fiscal year that began this month, we have to reduce our spending by an additional $14 million — this is on top of an earlier 4% cut imposed on all UH Mānoa programs (totaling $11.6 million) and central reductions of more than $20 million through reduced services, "holds" on positions, and redirection of tuition increases. There is no easy or painless way to achieve such rapid financial cuts, because it certainly involves additional reductions in staff and faculty — we all fully recognize and regret the damaging impact this inflicts on many careers, families and futures.

This additional $14 million could be substantially alleviated through other actions, such as the equivalent of one-day-per month furloughs or a 5% salary reduction; however, there has not yet been progress in reaching agreement with UH public employee unions to implement such steps. Therefore, we have no choice but to move forward and require schools/colleges to manage this additional loss of revenue now in the best way they can. Since our UH policies require at least four months‘ advance notice of non-renewal of most contracts, that means September 1st is the first date by which we must unfortunately be notifying more members of our campus community that they will not be retained for the Spring 2010 semester. If there is a comprehensive labor settlement in the near future, we would be able to significantly lessen these additional losses. However, we simply can‘t wait any longer at this point in time, because the cuts become more severe if we continue to spend at current levels and then have to compress the cuts into a shorter time frame.

Over the past several months, members of our Chancellor‘s Advisory Committee on Prioritization and Budget Workgroup have been meeting separately — and in recent weeks, together — to discuss ways in which UH Mānoa can maintain our focus on academic priorities and, at the same time, maximize our limited resources more effectively, including the identification of areas for reduction/ elimination and recommendations on additional ways to generate more revenues.

Based on those discussions and additional input, I have concluded that UH Mānoa should be guided by the following principles in accomplishing these budget cuts:

· Maintain our major instructional programs to the fullest extent possible, because of their crucial relationship to increasing student success. To help achieve this result, the further reductions in Arts and Sciences programs will be limited to 2.5%, while the level of reductions in other campus programs will be 6%. We all recognize that, in contrast to cuts, the campus had planned to invest tuition increases in many activities supporting student success, but that lost opportunity is an unfortunate consequence of the large budget reductions for Mānoa.

· Exempt a limited number of programs from the cuts because of campuswide impacts. These programs would include: the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge because, as our newest school, it is still becoming established and is critically important to fulfilling our commitment to our Native Hawaiian community; facilities and maintenance because of the need to remedy our long backlog of overdue repairs to provide an acceptable learning/research environment for current and future campus members; and security because the safety of our campus community is of utmost importance to everyone.

· Plan for permanent, substantial cuts in our base budget from the State, because this is not a one-time problem. The reality facing us is that we simply cannot afford to continue all that we are doing and do it well. Following up on the declaration by former President David McClain of a "fiscal exigency" at the University of Hawai‘i - http://www.Hawaiʻi.edu/cgi-bin/uhnews?20090728160502 - our campus must definitely plan for longer-term savings through retrenchment. The reduction levels outlined above take into account the alleviation provided by federal stimulus funds which are one-time only and expire after next year. In addition, there is the strong likelihood that Hawai‘i‘s revenue picture in the near future will worsen before it improves. As we know, even when we implement steps to eliminate programs, the savings will not be realized for at least a year because of notification requirements, so it is imperative that we begin those actions now.

The challenges confronting us will require cooperation and understanding among all members of our UH Mānoa community. We will plan for a campus-wide forum early in the upcoming fall semester to which students, staff and faculty will be invited to share their thoughts and ideas. This is a time for creativity and action — thankfully UH Mānoa is blessed in having a lot of "mind power" to apply to our challenges. In addition, many people in our campus community and our friends/alumni care deeply about our future and are stepping forward to help — I am grateful for everyone‘s passionate support during these tough times.

Mahalo nui loa,

Virginia S. Hinshaw

UH Mānoa Chancellor