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General Assembly budget actions

President Taylor Reveley sent the following message to faculty and staff March 2, 2015 - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,    

Last Thursday the General Assembly approved amendments to the Commonwealth’s 2014-2016 operating and capital budgets. The results were much better for public higher education than had been expected when the session began in January.

During the past few years, William & Mary has improved the competitiveness of our salaries significantly using our own resources. Now, for FY 2016, the General Assembly has authorized and partially funded a 2% pool for merit-based salary increases for instructional faculty in public colleges and universities across the Commonwealth. The General Assembly also allows us to establish an additional merit-based pool of up to 2.5% for instructional faculty, funded wholly by reallocations within our existing budget. For professional and support staff, the budget as adopted by the General Assembly includes the state share of a 2% salary pool and states: “The governing authorities of . . . state institutions of higher education . . . may provide a salary adjustment based on performance and other employment-related factors, so long as the increases do not exceed the two percent increase on average.”  Support staff who remain in the state classified system are also eligible for a salary compression adjustment based on years of service. 

In addition to funding our share of these salary actions (75%), the university also must cover its share (again, 75%) of a 2.9% increase in health insurance costs and a 15.2% increase in our Virginia Retirement System contribution. 

The General Assembly accepted the Governor’s recommendation to increase need-based financial aid for in-state undergraduates.  William & Mary will receive an additional $100,000 to this end. No increase in graduate financial aid was provided.

In Fall 2014 William & Mary experienced a $2.3 million reduction in state support as the Commonwealth moved to balance the state’s budget.  While not able to fully restore these funds going forward, the General Assembly did provide $495,000 to partially restore what was lost, recognize FY 2016 enrollment growth, and support university initiatives, including an expansion of our eLearning platform.   

An additional $245,000 has been provided as base funding for the Puller Veterans Clinic at the Law School. Although the Puller Clinic has gained national recognition as a model for how to help veterans obtain their disability benefits, to this point it has been funded wholly by grants, donations and law school funds. State support for core staffing at the Clinic is very important to its continued efficacy.

VIMS received support for faculty and staff salary increases as noted above. Recognizing the Institute’s importance to the Commonwealth’s seafood industry, the General Assembly has also provided $500,000 for VIMS to conduct finfish/shellfish surveys in the Chesapeake Bay.

Finally, consistent with the university’s just-approved Master Plan, the General Assembly authorized planning for the West Campus utilities (state funding) and construction of the Integrated Wellness Center (university-supported bonds). VIMS received state funds to plan a Facilities Management Building as well as equipment funds for the Consolidated Research Facility. Both the main campus and VIMS received additional equipment trust fund and maintenance reserve funding for equipment needs and smaller-scale improvement of academic and research facilities.

The General Assembly’s budget decisions await review and approval by the Governor. We can, however, now develop William & Mary’s FY 2016 operating budgets for the main campus and VIMS with reasonable confidence that what’s sketched above will come to pass.

Taylor Reveley