The good news is the College administration expected significant reductions in the amount of state support William and Mary receives and began preparing weeks ago. The bad news is that a reduction of $3.4 million - the amount Gov. Tim Kaine recommended last month as part of his plan to close the nearly $1 billion spending gap in the state budget -will impact everyone at the College.
And that's not factoring in the currently unknown amount of reductions the state will impose in fiscal year 2010.
William and Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III and Vice President for Finance Sam Jones hosted a campus forum Wednesday on pending reductions in state budget dollars. More than 150 faculty, staff and students attended the forum at the College's Sadler Center.
"This is a world-wide financial crisis so we are not alone," Reveley said. "But this will come to an end and we will emerge from it - as will the United States and the Commonwealth - in good shape. The great question is how long will this global crisis continue, and right now nobody knows."
In early October, Kaine announced a series of proposed reductions to the budgets of state agencies across the Commonwealth, including his own office and public colleges and universities. William and Mary's proposed reductions total 7 percent of the $52.2 million in state dollars previously appropriated for this fiscal year. The governor's proposal also defers all raises originally planned for December until at least July 2009. Over the next several weeks, the College will finalize a proposal to address the reductions and that will be submitted to the Board of Visitors in November. The priorities moving forward, Reveley said, were to protect the core academic mission of the College, protect people at William and Mary and protect need-based student financial aid. Reveley and Jones said they will not cut financial aid and a mid-year tuition increase is not likely. The president added that layoffs will not occur this year.
"I really don't think layoffs or firing people is an appropriate response to the current situation, especially at a community as close-knit as ours," Reveley said. "There are not going to be layoffs this fiscal year."
The College has been planning for this year's cuts, which come on top of the $2.7 million in reductions the state imposed on the College's operating budget last year. Several weeks ago, the College asked departments on campus to plan for a five-percent reduction in their operations and maintenance budgets. That has already provided an estimated $1.2 million of the state cuts. The College has implemented other actions in reaction to the governor's budget proposals , including a temporary hiring freeze and reducing other budgets - such as the amount the College spends in rental costs each year for space off campus. However, nearly 80 percent of the College's general fund is made up in personal services, or people, Jones said.
"You can see how much of our budget is in the heart of the institution - making sure we have the faculty to teach our students and making sure they have the support to do that," Jones said.
The biggest unknown right now, Jones said, is the amount of reductions the College will face in 2009-2010. The governor is expected to announce a reduction proposal for next year in December but early indications are that the 7 percent cut is a base and not the ceiling, Jones said. The governor's office has not indicated when they expect reduction plans from state agencies. For the current year reduction, Reveley said the College will continue to work with the campus community and the Board of Visitors.
Reveley encouraged members of the campus community to continue to be engaged in the process. The ultimate, long-term answer, he added, was becoming less dependent on state support. That includes increasing the amount of private support the College receives, finding ways to be more efficient and exploring any entrepreneurial ideas that could raise additional funds, he said. However, he added, the current financial situation across the world will continue to make the coming year difficult.
"That is ultimately the basic answer - build the private foundation on which this university sits," Reveley said. "We'll be doing the best we can during this global financial crisis."