March 21, 2019

Webster projects shortfall, to make $6-7 million in mid-year reductions

Webster University is projecting a shortfall that will require $6-7 million in mid-year reductions according to an email sent from the university administration on Jan. 31.

The email outlined the following areas as a focus for the university as it works to realign its budget to fit within enrollment numbers:

—Continue to target investments to support our core academic mission and create a foundation for future revenue growth.

—Forgo the potential mid-year salary adjustment since this had been dependent on enrollment targets. The revenue shortfall is projected to be larger than the reserve set aside for a mid-year salary adjustment.

—Marshall resources to strengthen academic quality, recruiting and retention efforts.

—Offer a balanced budget signifying that Webster remains a financially solid institution dedicated to long-term financial sustainability.

—Examine long-held assumptions and policies in order to create savings and efficiencies in all colleges, schools and administrative units.

Coordinator of Academic Affairs Tamara Minley did not know about the budget shortfall until she received the email late this afternoon. She said other staff members found out in the same way. Minley said her only concern at this time is “whether or not staff will receive raises based off of this communication.” Staff members have not yet had an opportunity to discuss what will happen next.

The university will use these mid-year cuts to set a foundation for next year’s budget. The email stated:

“The good news is, with this mid-year adjustment, we intend to create a sustainable foundation for the FY15 budget that addresses growth in fixed costs within a model of stable enrollment and modest tuition increases,” the email stated.

More than 90 percent of Webster’s revenue comes from tuition fees.

Webster’s incoming 2013-2014 freshmen class was the largest it has been in 14 years, President Elizabeth Stroble announced at the Fall Convocation. Webster enrolled 502 students in the fall.

Interim Chief Enrollment Officer Robert Parrent said at a September Faculty Assembly meeting prior to Sept. 2, the discount was at 59 percent with the target being 54-55 percent. That increased discount rate aided in the university’s increased enrollment.

Last January, the university projected a $12.2 million budget shortfall below its revenue goal for the year. The university made budget reductions in the following areas last year:

—Five percent budget reduction for all budget lines except for salary and utilities.

—Limit new hires.

—Hold on travel and entertainment expenses.

—Cap on new classroom furniture expenses at $150,000.

—Cap on deferred maintenance spending at $140,000.

—Cap new site setup spending at $250,000.

Provost Julian Schuster and Chief Financial Officer Greg Gunderson will be present at the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Schuster will address faculty.

 

Contributed reporting by Livie Hall, Gabe Burns

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