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A Message from the President: Important Work Will Be Funded

June 16, 2017

Dear Campus Community:

As you may have heard or read by now, at its meeting on Wednesday, June 7, the Board of Trustees approved the university’s FY18 operating budget, and in the motion to adopt the FY18 budget, the board also took action regarding reserves (the full recommendation that was adopted can be found here).

In short, the recommendation of the trustees’ Budget Committee that was adopted by the full board outlines how the university must first consolidate 80 percent of reserves proportionately across each major operating unit (i.e., College of Arts and Sciences, UW Libraries, Research and Economic Development, etc.) and then redistribute that amount, approximately $49.7 million, to seven central reserves by July 31, 2017.

The provost and I have heard from some of you, and we understand the concerns you have expressed about the impact this action may have on your departments -- and know that your concerns are our concerns. But also know that we are 100 percent committed to ensuring that the important mission-driven work of research, teaching and service that these reserves were intended to support will be funded in FY18. We have also already begun working with the university’s leadership team to develop a process and policy for how cash balances and carryover funds will be handled going forward, and you can be certain that we will widely circulate the draft proposal to campus to seek your input and feedback.

In the meantime, I want to outline what our immediate action plan is. One of the key challenges is that the $49.7 million is currently distributed among 700-plus individual accounts -- not to mention that we have a very quick timeline to implement this, and that it comes in the middle of transitioning to an entirely new financial management system next month. Our first step will be that David Jewell, our associate vice president for budget, will send out today to each dean and vice president a detailed listing of the individual reserve accounts and the balances that were reflected in the FY18 operating budget that the trustees adopted. This file will also calculate the proportionate reserve amount needed from each college and/or division, and I am asking our deans and vice presidents to work through their accounts next week and identify funds that can contribute to the central reserves and make notes on those accounts which would be challenging to the unit to centralize. Then, individual meetings with the deans and vice presidents will be set up early the week of June 26 to review their accounts and notes. After that, we will compile all of the feedback, rerun the actual account balances at the end of FY17 (June 30, 2017), and then present an update to the Board of Trustees at the July 18-21 meetings.

Thank you for your patience, collaboration and understanding as we work through this process together.

Sincerely,

Laurie S. Nichols, President


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