W&M President Taylor Reveley sent the following memo to faculty and staff on March 17, 2016 - Ed.
Last Friday the Virginia General Assembly approved its version of the state’s 2016-18 biennial budget. The results were quite promising for higher education in the Commonwealth.
While the General Assembly’s budget remains subject to review and action by the Governor, we expect it to fare well. Here are the highlights:
Faculty and Staff Salaries—A first-year 3% merit-based salary pool for faculty members as well as professional and university operational staff, effective November 2016. For W&M employees who remain classified staff, the increase is 3% across-the-board.
Operating Funds—W&M’s main campus receives $1.2m in the first year, increasing to $1.7m in the second year to address enrollment growth, operation and maintenance of new facilities coming online, and other institutional priorities. Our VIMS campus receives $500,000 each year.
Financial Aid—$131,000 in additional undergraduate financial aid is provided in the first year. The budget also includes graduate financial aid totaling $122,000 in the first year, increasing to $177,000 in the second year, on the main campus, and $80,000 per year on the VIMS campus. This is the first time in memory that funds to support graduate aid have been included in the budget.
Special Initiatives—The General Assembly’s budget supports the Governor’s recommendation of $430,000 for a joint initiative between VIMS/W&M and ODU to establish The Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency. VIMS also receives one-time funds of $125,000 in FY 2018 for educational outreach with the Mariners Museum.
Capital Outlay—There is very good news on the capital front for both our main and VIMS campuses. The Governor included in his recommendations full funding for the West Utilities project (not glamorous but vital) and planning authorization for our next science building – ISC4. The General Assembly budget also includes planning and construction funds for phases 1 and 2 of our Arts Quarter initiative. This funding will allow us to move forward with construction of a new music facility as well as the renovation and expansion of PBK Hall. For VIMS, the Governor included the Chesapeake Bay Hall System Replacement and Repairs project, approval for the construction of a new Facilities Management building, and authorization to plan the new Oyster Hatchery. The General Assembly confirmed these recommendations. Finally, the General Assembly also confirmed the Governor’s Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund and Maintenance Reserve recommendations for both W&M campuses, providing additional funds to purchase research and instructional equipment and support small scale facility improvements.
Research—The end of the session saw support for research. Funds were included for the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Health Research Corporation, with W&M listed as a participating institution. Additional funds were allocated to GO Virginia. W&M and other institutions will have access to some portion of these funds as part of regional partnerships.
As noted, the Governor now may approve, amend, or veto the budget, subject to legislative override in appropriate cases. It is our hope that those parts of the budget representing significant state investment in higher education will come through unscathed. We believe they will. We are very grateful to the Governor and General Assembly for the priority they have given to higher education at a time when there are many competing needs in the Commonwealth, all seeking a share of very finite state resources.