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Departments plan for budget shortfalls this year, next year


Declining enrollment and reduced state funding has left Central Michigan University with a $10.6 million shortfall — and next year could possibly be worse.

The university has asked each department and division to prepare for a possible 6 percent, 9 percent and 12 percent budget reduction for the 2017-18 fiscal year. 

“Every division is looking at different scenarios depending on what the magnitude of what the potential shortfall could be,” said Joseph Garrison, the director of Financial Planning and Budgets.

The university uses a responsibility-centered management model, which gives colleges control of revenue and expenditures. The $10.6 million budget deficit will be balanced with recommended savings from each division, Garrison said.

Deans and service unit leaders are looking at various ways to accomplish that goal: saving through staff vacancies and offering fewer courses, spending less on equipment and supplies; and using reserves and implementing base-budget reductions.

A base budget reduction could involve permanently eliminating vacant positions and will provide long-term savings if funding continues to decline.

“We have to look at potential new realities,” Garrison said.

The Office of Institutional Research has projected a decline in main campus enrollment of 311 students for the upcoming fall semester compared to fall 2016. That estimate does not include Global Campus, which is calculated from actual enrollment, said Associate Director of Institutional Research Mary Meier.

Gov. Rick Snyder will present his recommended budget for the state in mid-February. Garrison said the proposed budget will give the university an indication as to whether the state will increase or decrease higher education funding.

Garrison added that it’s impossible to determine the probability of layoffs until more information becomes available, but the university is trying to “mitigate” impact on faculty.

Some programs will be impacted more than others depending on demand, he said.

“Across the board cuts are not strategic,” Garrison said. “We need to align ourselves with programs that have growth potential and student demand.”

The university is not going to have “a large spike” in tuition, Garrison said. He added that CMU is committed to not shifting the burden to students.

“I hate to speculate because it doesn’t do anyone any good and it just causes fear,” he said. “I like to work with facts and when we get enrollment data, we’ll be able to extrapolate tuition revenue.”