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UND saves $13.3M for fiscal year 2016

While the search for long-term solutions is ongoing, officials say they have solved an initial $5.3 million budget shortfall at UND, and then some. In an effort to address ongoing budgetary concerns such as extraordinary repairs, the Energy and E...

Graphic by Carli Greninger/Grand Forks Herald

While the search for long-term solutions is ongoing, officials say they have solved an initial $5.3 million budget shortfall at UND, and then some.

In an effort to address ongoing budgetary concerns such as extraordinary repairs, the Energy and Environmental Research Center budget deficit and search for a new president, the school actually saved $13.3 million for fiscal year 2016.

According to documents UND provided to the Herald, the cost-saving measures are one-time and temporary in nature. They were evenly distributed between academic, non-academic and finance and operations, all of which contributed between 27 and 30 percent of the $13.3 million in savings.

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Public affairs, student affairs, the president and athletics offices also contributed through cuts or revenue increases, all of which contributed to the $13.3 million by 8 percent or less.

After the state Legislature capped tuition increases at 2.5 percent during the 2015 session, Vice President for Finance and Operations Alice Brekke announced the school would need to find ways to save $5.3 million.

Department leaders were asked to submit sample budgets and suggestions in November to cover the shortfall, and Brekke said those ideas were used by the university to solve the shortfall.

"This first round is primarily one-time actions," she said. "It would be savings because a position is vacant or decisions to delay certain kind of purchases. It's the one-time sorts of things you can do quickly, near-term, and move on."

UND's academic units contributed the most with 30 percent and spends 56 percent the university's expenditures. In that area, there was a salary and benefits cost savings of $3.4 million and revenue contribution of $470,352.

The majority of salary savings was a $830,300 piece from the College of Arts and Sciences, which left positions open in numerous departments, including the dean's office, chemistry, communications and languages.

The School of Law also is delaying the hiring of a director of central research, law library director and law library associate positions, saving $228,900.

Brekke said many specific jobs left open were not available because of the way departments and colleges provided information to the budget office and the way the records are kept.


The Office of Finance and Operations contributed $493,680 in salary savings, $125,580 of which came from a one-year reduction in the fee the university pays to cover workmen's compensation.

The Division of Student Affairs reduced salary expenditures by $383,689 and the Office of University and Public Relations reduced salary expenditures by $53,187, all of which came from not hiring an events and projects coordinator position.

The Office of Extended Learning contributed $2.6 million from existing cash balances, as Brekke said that office receives tuition dollars because of the services it provides.

The UND Athletics Department contributed $1 million in both savings and increased revenue projections but Brekke said she did not know the exact breakdown.

"They are not held harmless in all these discussions," she said.

Not done yet

Looking ahead, Brekke said the school still has to work on a reduction to the existing 2015-17 budget, trimming $9.5 million from UND's general fund appropriation and $3.1 million from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences general fund appropriation.

Interim President Ed Schafer previously told the Herald UND and the Med School combined would have to cut about $9 million in expenditures.


The requirement is the result of a mandate from Gov. Jack Dalrymple, what Brekke referred to as an "allotment," after the state's revenue projections fell short.

"By definition, the allotment is a one and done," she said. "Now that doesn't mean that when guidelines come out for the next biennium budget, there isn't going to be some more permanent expectation of reduced budgets. We simply don't know that at this point."

Earlier this week, Schafer announced several cost-cutting initiatives including a faculty buyout program, but Brekke said as she moves forward, nothing is off the table. She added the university must still look at the base budget of fiscal year 2017 and face the reality that lawmakers may reduce appropriations further during the next legislative session.

"We know the revenues are under pressure, whether you're talking the state, whether you're talking affordability for our students, or federal funding, all of those are under pressure," she said. "We have to be looking at reshaping our budget."


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