The University of Akron will balance the coming school year’s budget by eliminating employee raises and raising tuition for many students.
The $379.6 million budget trustees approved Wednesday erases a projected gap of $27.6 million between revenue and expenditures for the year that begins next month.
“These are perilous times, and we think they’re doing a terrific job,” trustee Chairman Dick Pogue said of UA’s administration.
UA officials have been meeting with faculty and staff for months about the projected budget shortfall prompted by a 3.5 percent drop in fall 2012 enrollment, flat support from the state and a $14 million loss in federal stimulus funds.
They found $30 million in savings — more than they believe they would need, if fall enrollment stabilizes at last year’s level — by raising tuition and fees and cutting or freezing existing expenditures.
For example, the university will raise tuition and fees 2 percent for undergraduate and graduate students. That appears to be the limit the Ohio General Assembly will set in its budget.
Tuition for incoming law school students will rise 6 percent and be frozen while they earn their degrees.
At the same time, other students will get a break.
UA froze tuition for associate degree students at Wayne College in Orrville and at the Summit College on the Akron campus to inch them more in line with community colleges with which UA competes.
Trustees also reduced tuition and fees at the Medina County University Center by 11.8 percent to bring it more in line with Wayne College, UA Finance Director Dave Cummins said.
The university will award $48.7 million in scholarships, up 5.5 percent over the previous year.
UA also will shift three fees from seniors to freshmen, generating more money because there are more first-year students. Sophomores and juniors will continue to pay the technology, library and career advantage fees.
The university reduced expenses by $25.5 million. Support units were cut an average of 8 percent and academic units 5 percent.
Raises not budgeted
Meanwhile, faculty and staff will not get any raises — or at least the budget does not include any money for them.
UA does not have any contractually required increases scheduled for the coming school year, Cummins said, even though at least two unions are in negotiations.
The university also will not fill about 100 faculty and staff positions. More than half of these are empty; retirements and separations will eliminate the balance.
No layoffs are planned at this time, UA President Luis Proenza said earlier this week.
Still, this might not end the cuts, Cummins warned trustees.
Fall enrollment is a moving target, he said, as some projections show it dropping as much as 7 percent. While the budget approved Wednesday could absorb a 2 percent decline in enrollment, a larger drop could force the university to make further cuts.
Cummins said he is coming up with a contingency plan that could include a compensation review.
In other businesses, trustees approved the formation of the Public Health Law and Science Center in the law school and approved a resolution congratulating Ted Curtis, vice president of capital planning and facilities management, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest, Romania.
Curtis led UA’s Landscape for Learning, a $600-million plus remaking of campus, and while in the private sector developed Quaker Square, which UA later purchased.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.