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Hoppe shares possible outcomes under DOG budget, asks faculty and staff to “be part of the solution”

April 1, 2002

Outlining possible cuts if the Downsizing Our Government (DOG) is enacted, Dr. Sherry Hoppe on Tuesday pledged administration's commitment to "do the best we can to engage as many people as we can to generate the best dialogue possible" as the University faces one of the biggest challenges in its 75-year history.

"We are in an untenable situation," Hoppe said at the 4 p.m. meeting. "But that doesn't mean we can't overcome."

Hoppe outlined three possible financial scenarios for the University: implementation of the DOG budget, a continuation of the current budget and "more than the DOG budget but less than the continuation budget."

Should the DOG budget be enacted, the University would face a $5.3 million shortfall, she said. She then outlined how the University might prepare itself for the shortage: cuts in athletics, unpaid one-day-per-month furloughs by professional staff, administrative cuts or reassignments, the elimination of seven tenure-track faculty and reductions in faculty reassigned time. The cuts outlined would create a total savings of $2.8 million.

The proposed cuts are merely that, Hoppe emphasized. "These numbers have not been finalized."

Additional cuts that could be made under the DOG budget include a $58,000 cut in library funding, as well as cuts in operating expenses.

Tuition increases also might become part of the solution, though Hoppe says the Tennessee Board of Regents is "reluctant to put shortages of the DOG budget on the backs of students."

And fee increases alone would not solve the University's problems. A 15 percent increase in fees would "still not be enough" to offset the DOG budget-imposed cuts, she said.

Any cuts in faculty would be based on the level of student credit hour production as well as the availability of adjuncts in a particular discipline. "Some are more readily available than others," Hoppe says. Department chairs will be asked for their input. Then, as quickly as possible, reappointment letters will be released-"no early than early May."

Decisions about staff cuts would be based on the number of students served, outcomes achieved, transferability of the function and whether the work is essential to the University's mission or an enhancement of it.

Dr. Dewey Browder, professor of history and chair of the department of history and philosophy, voiced concern that "we're talking about letting faculty go but keeping adjuncts. I think we need to honor our first-year contracts."

Dr. Hoppe responded by saying that the state's funding formula requires a certain level of adjuncts. She expressed hope that no faculty would be let go. "But if we get to the point of saying 'We can retain a $50,000-a-year faculty or we can provide certain classes for students who need them,' our responsibility first and foremost is to provide classes."

Hoppe said that searches to fill open positions will continue to the point of interviews, provided the University doesn't have to pay travel expenses. "We've been very candid with applicants, letting them know about our situation."

Dr. Bruce Speck, who admitted he is "less optimistic about the University's future than Dr. Hoppe," said, "We're in the position of trying to run the University when we don't know what our budget is…But we can't just shut down."

"You have demonstrated that you are resilient," Hoppe said in closing. "I ask you to reach into the depths of your being and draw upon the strength I know you have. We need your help.

"I know this isn't fair. But it is what we have been dealt. By working together, we can reduce the hurt, reduce the impact.

"We're all in this together. We're all in the same boat. I hope that when it's over, we're all still in the boat and we're all still paddling. We need your ideas, your flexibility. Ultimately, we're in the business of changing lives. We can do that better by working together."