WMU News

Bailey to hold 'Town Hall' meetings on budget

July 3, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of Western Michigan University, will hold a series of "Town Hall" meetings later this month to discuss the effects of reductions in state funding with members of the WMU campus community.

In a message to the University community, Bailey said the open campus meetings will be held following the July 16 meeting of the Board of Trustees, at which action on the 2003-04 budget and tuition and fees is expected. The campus meetings will take place in Brown Auditorium of Schneider Hall on Thursday, July 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. and on Friday, July 18, from 8 to 10 a.m. The complete text of Bailey's message to the campus community follows.

To the University Community:

I know many in the University community are anxiously waiting for news about our budget prospects for the coming year. Let me share with you where we stand today and describe what will take place in the next two weeks.

Even before my official June 9 start date, I began meeting with senior-level administrators from across the University so that I could get a clear picture of just how the projected state cuts to higher education will impact our University. Those meetings also focused on the steps that could be taken to address each of several budget scenarios.

While the details of the state's cuts to university budgets have undergone several changes over the past weeks, one fact has remained constant. This year, our base appropriation will be about $12.5 million lower than the state funding in place for WMU at the beginning of the 2002-03 academic year. The state appropriation accounts for nearly half of our operating fund budget. The other half of our budget comes almost entirely from tuition and fees.

At the July 16 Board of Trustees meeting, the board will approve WMU's 2003-04 budget and set the tuition for 2003-04. Even if the state has not concluded its part of the process, we simply cannot wait beyond that date to make decisions about tuition and fees for the coming year. Our students and their families must know what to plan for, and we must know what amount of tuition and fee revenue we can count on.

As we have developed alternative budget scenarios in preparation for the board meeting, our key objectives have been to protect the academic quality of the institution and, to the degree possible, minimize cuts to people and services. We have also factored into our planning the potential savings that the hiring freeze implemented earlier in the year can deliver as well as other cost saving measures that have been or could be implemented. I pledge to you that we will do our best to accomplish these goals.

Until the trustees take action on July 16, there is nothing more specific that I can share with you. What I can assure you is that the process of planning for how to handle these significant budget shortfalls has been careful and deliberate, involving the entire senior staff of the university. In preparation for the board meeting, numerous options have been and will continue to be examined.

Following the board's action, I will discuss the plan that has been adopted with the University community, in a series of "Town Hall" meetings. These campus meetings will be held Thursday, July 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. and Friday, July 18, from 8 to 10 a.m. All three meetings will be held in Brown Auditorium of Schneider Hall.

When we meet on July 17 and 18, I will provide an overview of the actions necessary to achieve a balanced budget in light of reduced state funding.

Until then, I ask for your continued patience and grace during these uncertain times. These qualities will serve our University community well as we address the challenges of the coming year.

Judith I. Bailey
President, Western Michigan University

Media contacts: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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