May 7, 2010
Convening just hours ahead of Ball State's annual spring Commencement, members of the university's Board of Trustees approved a 2010-11 general fund budget plan totaling roughly $305.6 million and reflecting a 7.7 percent decrease in state appropriations from the 2009-10 budget originally approved by the board last July.
The action is the culmination of an inclusive and thorough budget cutting process that encompassed the entire campus community since January. It comes less than two months after the board agreed to plans trimming the university's budget by a state-mandated $15.2 million through June 2011, or the balance of the current biennium.
Even so, the plan continues to commit approximately $5.6 million gained through budget savings and reallocations toward strategic plan initiatives. And even with the financial pressures associated with budget cutbacks, it allocates additional resources for strategic plan initiatives in 2010-11. The budget also shows increased revenue (and the associated expenses) for initiatives that should bring significant benefit to the university in three key areas: international student enrollment growth, increased graduate student enrollment and higher online enrollment.
This year, as a result of reductions in state appropriations and the associated cost-reduction and restructuring efforts of the university, overall compensation – salary and benefits – will see a reduction from the planned 2010-11 budget. Randy Howard, vice president for finance and treasurer, said, "We went through an inclusive process that produced a wide range of suggested tradeoffs as to what to cut in order to meet the $15.2 million reduction in appropriations. In the end, we accepted those suggestions that preferred to cut health care and retirement benefits more deeply than otherwise necessary in order to free up a pool of funds to give most employees a modest salary increase.
"At the end of the day, the cost to the University will be the same," added Howard, "but under this program we have responded to those employees who thought a cut in benefits would be preferable to a second year of no salary increases."
Final budgets will be submitted for approval by the trustees at their scheduled meeting in July.
President Jo Ann M. Gora again praised the collaborative spirit of the university community in coming to grips with the impact of the recent recession on state revenues and, consequently, the university's near term finances.
"Difficult times test one's mettle, and Ball State has proved strong, once more thanks to the hard work and cooperation of so many who share in our mission of serving students," Gora said. "Many of our fellow institutions in states across the country face similar challenges. We are confident that our process, which was inclusive and thoughtful, has resulted in strategic decisions that will ensure the long-term success of the institution. Ball State has come out of its recent trials even better prepared for the economic realities of today's ever more complex and global marketplace."
In other news affecting university finances, particularly as they address student financial assistance, President Gora was pleased to share with the board members that Ball State alumna and 2010 spring Commencement speaker, Angela Ahrendts, CEO of U.K.-based global luxury brand Burberry, has created a $1 million scholarship fund at the university.
Burberry established the fund to mark the occasion of Ahrendts delivering Ball State's spring Commencement address on May 8.
The scholarship fund will comprise $500,000 from Burberry and a matching $500,000 from Ball State, a leader in the field of emerging media. It will provide 25 four-year scholarships of $40,000 to students entering Ball State over the next four years with an emphasis on merchandising, design, and digital media.
The scholarships will be awarded as part of Ball State's Bold Celebration Scholars as well as a new Burberry Emerging Media Scholars program that builds on the strengths of Ball State's Digital Corps and its Emerging Media Faculty Fellows.
Leading emerging media efforts is not new for Ahrendts, who grew up in New Palestine, Ind., and credits her Hoosier roots as a key to her success. Burberry, which was founded in 1856 and is a member of the FTSE 100, has a global reputation for pioneering digital technology. It recently gained attention by beaming its runway show from London Fashion Week live and in 3-D around the world and by becoming the first luxury brand to attract more than 1 million fans on Facebook.