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University of Hartford Moves Toward Prioritizing Programs and Resources


Posted 09/24/2012
Posted by David Isgur

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The University of Hartford released a report to its faculty and staff today that recommends where University resources should be focused in future years without increasing the University’s overall budget. The recommendations were released for University employees’ review and comments after 45 University faculty and staff spent more than six months analyzing and prioritizing more than 250 academic and administrative programs. In the report there are recommendations on whether a University program needs more investment, should be maintained as is, needs to be restructured, or should be divested.

“The University of Hartford is currently in a strong financial position” said University President Walter Harrison. “On June 30 we completed our 15th-straight fiscal year with a budget surplus. Simply exercising financial restraint and conservative budgeting, however, does not allow us to address our most important priorities. I am proud that we are becoming leaders in moderating tuition growth by establishing priorities and funding them appropriately.”

The task forces’ recommendations identify 17 academic and administrative programs for investment, 126 academic and administrative programs for maintenance, 61 academic and administrative programs for restructure, and 48 academic and administrative programs for divestment.

“We face both increased competition from other colleges and universities and increased financial need among our students,” President Harrison said in his message releasing the report to faculty and staff. “In order to improve our competitive position and to meet our students’ financial needs, we intend to reallocate our budget priorities by reducing the number of programs we offer and providing better support to our priority programs. This is not a budget reduction plan; it is budget neutral.”

The recommendations, if fully adopted by the University, would generate for reallocation about $7 million within the $150 million operating budget over which the University has control. If adopted as written, these recommendations over the next five years might affect 30 to 40 faculty and staff out of the University’s full-time base of about 1,000 employees. It will affect no current students, as any final implementation plan will allow for students to complete their programs of study. The programs recommended for divestment currently enroll about 200 students out of the current University enrollment of about 7,000.

University faculty, staff and students have been invited to comment on the recommendations in the coming weeks. University officers are looking at any new, relevant data; considering projected budget implications; and assessing the recommendations within an institutional context. During the consideration phase, circumstances may become apparent that will make a recommendation not feasible to implement.

Final approval of the recommendations, with any changes or adjustments, will be made by the University’s officers in consultation with the University’s Board of Regents. “Our intention is to complete a plan for implementation of the recommendations that are adopted by the close of the fall semester,” said President Harrison.

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More information on University of Hartford’s Foundation of the Future, including the Task Forces’ recommendations and Frequently Asked Questions can be found at www.hartford.edu/FOTF.

Timeline and background on University actions leading up to these recommendations

2008
World-wide recession

January 2009:
President Harrison announces lowest tuition increase in 15 years (three percent) for academic year 2009-10, a two percent merit increase for faculty and staff, and a 10 percent hold back of all non-salary budgets.

President Harrison writes to alumni, donors, parents, faculty and staff in Observer Magazine about “the University’s financial situation in view of the worldwide recession and the financial uncertainty we face in 2009 and beyond.”

“I can assure you the University of Hartford enters this period in a very solid financial condition.”

“Nevertheless, the University of Hartford is not immune to the current global economic turmoil.”

“As we make choices in the months ahead, our most important commitment will be to make financial aid available to students who need it.”

“I believe we can maintain the momentum we have established by practicing financial restraint. Our emphasis must always be on maintaining the quality of a University of Hartford education, both in the classroom and beyond it.”

March 2010
President Harrison announces the tuition increase in academic year 2010-11 will be three percent for the second straight year.

In the midst of preparing for accreditation review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the University commits to four related initiatives:

1. a full-time faculty compensation study:
2. a review and prioritization study called Foundation of the Future;
3. a marketing and branding effort;
4. a master plan for the University Libraries

May 2010
President Harrison announces permanent budget reductions effective July 1, 2010 in a letter to faculty and staff.

“These reductions in the University’s budget total $5.2 million annually, or 3.3% of the University’s non-financial aid budget.”

“In our case, the most immediate effect of the recession is sharply increased financial aid needs of our students, which rose almost 5% in this past year.”

“Our goal in achieving these budget reductions was to affect our academic units less than our administrative ones. Regrettably, I must tell you that we have eliminated 42 positions, including nine that are currently filled.”

“We have been able to achieve these budget reductions without having to lay off any full-time faculty members, although we are significantly reducing the number of adjunct faculty we will employ next fall.”

“We will continue to take thoughtful, measured steps for the University’s economic and educational future.”

March 2011
For the third straight year, President Harrison announces a three percent tuition increase for the 2011-12 academic year.

President Harrison writes to alumni, donors, parents, faculty and staff in Observer Magazine:

“Over the past two years, our financial aid budget has increased by approximately $6 million, so that we are now awarding a total of $55 million in University-funded financial aid every year. We can do no more.”

November 2011
President Harrison launches Foundation of the Future, a program review and prioritization initiative for all academic and administrative programs, with the goal of determining where to focus the University’s resources without increasing the overall budget.

An Academic Programs Task Force and an Administrative Programs Task Force, comprising a total of 45 faculty and staff members, are appointed to conduct an exhaustive analysis of academic and administrative programs at the University.

March 2012
President Harrison announces a 3.75 percent tuition and fee increase for the 2012-13 academic year in a letter to parents and students.

“This year and next, we are focusing on reallocating our budget to fund our top priorities without increasing overall spending through a university-wide review we call Foundation of the Future. We hope with this initiative to keep tuition as low as we possibly can while keeping our quality as high as we know you expect.”

July 2012
The Academic and Administrative Task Forces deliver Foundation of the Future recommendations to President Harrison.

September 2012
Full-time faculty compensation study presented to full-time faculty during on-campus briefings

Foundation of the Future prioritization recommendations released to faculty and staff