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Fiscal Update from Chancellor Cantor

November 13, 2008

Chancellor Nancy Cantor

Chancellor Nancy Cantor

Dear SU Campus Community Members,

As promised, I am writing again to update you about progress the University is making in response to the challenges presented by the global economic crisis and how we are working to ensure that our positive momentum continues in the years ahead.

As you know from my previous message in mid-October and from Eric Spina's recent address, Lou Marcoccia, Eric, and I have been working for the past several weeks with each cabinet officer to find ways to reduce central administrative/support costs for the remainder of this fiscal year and beyond, and produce savings that can improve the fiscal health of the University.

During this process, we consulted University-wide constituencies including the Senate Budget Committee, the RCM Committee, our academic deans, and the University Board of Trustees. Each of these groups has been helpful, constructive and supportive of the approach being taken.

Through this collaborative effort in which cabinet officers have consulted with senior staff to examine their operations, we have identified a range of strategies that will enable us to reduce costs within our administrative/support units by $8 million in the current fiscal year (2009) increasing to $11 million next fiscal year (2010) and beyond. This represents savings of 4.5% and 6.1% of the reducible budget for these units for those years, respectively. This will be accomplished through a strategic reduction in unit operating budgets, elimination of vacant positions, and limited job consolidation. As we finalize our plans there will be ongoing discussion within cabinet areas.

In addition, detailed planning is underway for the fiscal year 2010 budget, which will include critical additional savings from a salary freeze for cabinet officers, the academic deans, and me; a reduction in planned borrowing; a freeze in administrative/support unit operating budgets; and new energy efficiency measures to promote sustainability and reduce costs.

In undertaking this review, our goal was to find new savings in the current financial environment that could be directed to our most critical priorities and enable continued academic momentum in the schools and colleges.

To that end, we will be able to continue to conduct strategic faculty searches and allow hiring of faculty within the schools and colleges to move forward. We also will provide salary increases for continuing faculty in 2010 of 3% on average overall. We also plan to increase staff salaries. In an effort to prioritize support for lower paid staff, in 2010 we will use a sliding scale model in which the average salary pool increase will range from a high of 3% (for the pool of employees earning $75,000 or less) to a low of 0% (for the pool of employees making $175,000 or more). As is our practice, specific salary increases within these ranges will be allocated based on merit.

We will take new steps to provide more SU financial aid to students and their families who we know are facing their own economic challenges. This coming year we will reduce the loan burden for low-income students and increase aid to middle-income students. We will also dedicate new resources to address emerging financial concerns of returning students. This is made possible by more than $3.3 million in new aid we will provide along with new gifts we have recently secured to support students.

Critical academic building projects will continue to move forward, such as the renovation of Bowne Hall, which will be the new home for the interdisciplinary biomaterials faculty cluster, and the construction of a new vivarium in the Life Sciences Complex.

We will continue to move forward with opportunities for our students and faculty to engage the world¿locally, nationally and globally. For example, the Technology Center being created by JPMorgan Chase will come on line this spring in its initial location at Lyman Hall. It will provide a unique opportunity for faculty and students from the seven different colleges involved in this collaboration to work side-by-side with new technology employees of JPMorgan Chase.

As we continue to build external support for SU, we are fortunate that the $1 billion Campaign for Syracuse University publicly launched last year has recently topped the $600 million mark. This provides a strong foundation for future fundraising. Yet we know in the current economic environment it will be especially important to allow donors to extend their giving capacity through planned giving. For example, a $500,000 retention payment that I received in June for completion of my original contract made it possible to construct the $1 million planned gift that Steve and I made to the campaign.

At the same time, in order to enable gifts that have an immediate impact, the Trustees remain committed to leveraging our endowment as a match to encourage donors to endow faculty chairs and professorships. This seems to be having important effects, as this commitment has recently created 10 new named, endowed professorships and chairs, bringing the total number created to date via the campaign to 22.

Along these lines, we know that we will need to be patient and collaborative with each other, our friends and supporters, as the current global financial crisis has created an environment that is unpredictable and volatile. We have taken these steps to secure our fiscal position, but prudence requires that this remain a dynamic process as the future unfolds. For example, external pressures could require that we consider further actions, such as salary freezes and operating reductions beyond those described here. Over the next several months we will vigilantly monitor our undergraduate and graduate applications and the associated financial aid applications, enrollment, endowment performance, and the costs of doing business, and will be prepared to take additional actions should the fiscal environment significantly change.

As a result of all of your work and dedication, the University is well positioned to maintain our trajectory of faculty excellence, student support and engagement with the world. I know our spirit of collaboration will continue moving forward.


Nancy Cantor

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