The Miami University Senate heard a report from Rebecca Luzadis, chair of the fiscal priorities and budget planning committee, about the university’s fiscal situation at its meeting Monday.
According to Luzadis, Miami is currently in a strong fiscal position, but needs to continue cutting costs.
The university is ending the fiscal year with a surplus and has a solid budget for the next two years. This is due in part to the fact that enrollment was stronger than expected and health care costs were lower than expected. However, after the next two years, the future is less certain, according to Luzadis.
“The thing we have to remember is that as soon as we run into a bad period like we did a couple of years ago, we could be back in the soup again,” Luzadis said, regarding the university’s enrollment rates.
Luzadis said that while many people think raising revenue is the key to maintaining financial stability, this solution is not sustainable. She said the university will have to cut costs in addition to raising revenues.
One reason for this is that state funding is being cut.
According to Luzadis, the state gave Miami around $15 million for major construction projects and about $5 million for renovations every two years for the past 10 years. Between 2011 and 2012, however, Miami received no money for renovations.
This means the university will have to set aside about $7 million per year to maintain buildings.
Luzadis said intercollegiate athletics are responsible for a large hole in the budget.
“There are expenditures in intercollegiate athletics, and right now, even though intercollegiate athletics…is supposed to be defined as self-supporting…which means they balance their own budget…that’s not the case, hasn’t been the case for quite some time,” Luzadis said. “They are heavily subsidized, and that is a concern. We’re going to have to look very carefully at how much money is going into intercollegiate athletics.”
Luzadis said the new athletic director will have to strike a balance between competing and balancing the budget.
“He is really between a rock and a hard place because he was hired into a position where he is expected to have successful programs and to compete,” Luzadis said. “But, we don’t have the budget to hire coaches at the salary levels that the schools we want to compete against pay.”
Luzadis ruled out one way to improve Miami’s financial situation.
“We can’t raise our price,” she said. “In the short run, it’s going to have to be trade-offs.”
She talked about a few ways the university can do this, such as subsidizing fewer programs and cutting athletic funding.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to have to be hard choices,” she said.
Luzadis also talked about enrollment management and how it affects the budget. According to Luzadis, retention is a crucial component of enrollment. She also recommended that the university expand its international recruitment to a larger number of countries and provide additional support to international students.
The Senate also approved the addition of a new co-major in comparative media studies.
Ron Becker, a professor of communications, presented this proposal.
“The idea is to try and leverage a core sequence of courses in comparative media studies, which is trying to get students to think about media in a much broader way,” Becker said.
The co-major will focus on media analysis and production, and will be administered within the new department of media, journalism and film.
The Senate also heard an update from Phyllis Callahan, dean of the College of Arts and Science, and James Kiper, a professor of computer science, about the Miami 2020 Plan.