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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FY ‘10 budget ‘a little worse’ than expected

Published: October 2, 2009
Section: Front Page

The university’s latest Fiscal Year 2010 budget projection is “a little worse” than last May’s projection, in part due to potential problems in raising restricted funds for the university’s operating budget, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Jeff Apfel announced at yesterday’s faculty meeting.

Such changes in the budget, while small, only serve to remind the university of the many budget cuts that are still to come to help balance the university’s budget in the years leading up to 2014.

While the university usually needs $11 million in restricted gifts to budget toward university operations, this year, Apfel said, “That maybe might not be achievable.”

Reaching the $11 million goal will be difficult this year because of President Jehuda Reinharz’s pending resignation.

Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship told The Hoot, “any time a president transitions, a university will have a downturn in fundraising.”

This downturn could last for a “testing period” of a few years after the transition has occurred while the new president strengthens ties with donors, Winship continued.

Reinharz has told the Board of Trustees that he will continue to help procure donations to the university up until 2014 despite his intent to leave the university by June 2011.

Decreases in fundraising could also be due to a combination of other factors. An unfavorable economic climate, as well as the fact that the university pushed donors to “stretch” donations to cover the FY 2009 budget, could mean that donors may be unwilling to donate again so soon, Winship said.

Even after the university balances the FY 2010 budget, it will still have to work to close the budget gaps of FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013 and FY 2014.

According to Apfel’s predictions, if the university accurately implements all of the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Steering Committee’s (CARS) recommendations (which include implementing the Justice Brandeis Semester, instituting a business major, cutting 35 staff positions and increasing student enrollment by 400 students by 2014), the university will face a cumulative budget gap of $23 million over the next four years.

If the CARS recommendations do not work, the university could face a cumulative budget gap of up to $52 million by 2014.

“If CARS works, we hopefully will be able to fix the budget for the long run,” Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe said at the meeting.

As for the immediate future, Apfel said the university will have to find a way to make up the budget gaps at least through 2014.

Apfel also said that while the university’s budget problem is better than many other universities, Brandeis has less unrestricted resources than other schools, which will make the Brandeis budget gaps more difficult to close.

“The good news is we are better off than our compatriot universities,” Apfel said at the faculty meeting. “But while our problem is more manageable, we have less flexibility” because of the small size of the university’s budget.

Apfel added that even if the Board of Trustees allows the university to dip into its reserve fund, “we would run through it by 2013. We’re going to have to think of other ways to make this money.”

Reinharz told the faculty he believed the solution would be “a combination of a lot of things,” including selling assets.

The sale of assets could eventually include the sale of artwork from the Rose Art Museum.

“Right now we are in the midst of a lawsuit, and that complicates things,” Reinharz explained, referring to a lawsuit brought against the university by three benefactors to the Rose Art Museum in an effort to stop the sale of artwork.

The Suffolk Probate Court will hold a hearing on Oct. 13 to consider a motion for a preliminary injunction, filed by the plaintiffs, and a motion to dismiss the case altogether, filed by the university.

“We will have a better idea about what our options are in two weeks,” Reinharz said.

**This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: an article published on Oct. 2 did not clarify the context of the following quotation made by Jeff Apfel: “The good news is we are better off than our compatriot universities, But while our problem is more manageable, we have less flexibility” because of the small size of the university’s budget.
The following paragraph has been.” In reality, this quotation was made in reference to the lower amount of unrestricted resources at Brandeis than at other universities.