Frequently Asked Questions
Why were these actions necessary?
These measures are a proactive approach to to help manage and monitor the university’s cash flow in the face of expected cuts to the university’s state budget allocation for next year.
The budget cuts are anticipated due to declining state tax revenues. The university’s administration expects the portion of the institution’s budget that comes from the state to be cut 8.94%—approximately $5.11 million for the main campus—for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
By taking action now, we hope to avoid some of the drastic measures already happening at universities in other states, including layoffs and huge increases in tuition.
Decisions have been—and will continue to be—framed around the priorities and mission of our university, and as such, the best interests of our students, faculty and staff. The most important consideration in every spending decision will be the delivery of services to our students.
I heard months ago that there was going to be a 7.5% cut. Where did the 8.94% figure come from?
The 7.5% figure came from the West Virginia Department of Revenue and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission in August 2012.
In November 2012, it was reported that the amount might be as much as 8.72%.
The latest figure (8.94%) came from the Governor’s Executive Budget document, which was released in February. This is the most recent information we have.
Why wasn’t more notice given?
It was clear from the latest state budget projections that we had to act now. We are in the final quarter of this fiscal year and there has been no indication the state’s financial condition is improving. We have been watching the situation for signs it will get better, but the latest figures show a continuing decline in state tax revenues.
We understand these new measures will be somewhat of an inconvenience for the university community, but this is the best possible course of action. This proactive approach should put us in a much better position to face those cuts we have been told to expect.
What portion of Marshall’s budget comes from the state?
State appropriations made up nearly one-third of the university’s total revenues last year.
Besides state appropriations, what are the university’s sources of income?
The university’s other sources of revenue are grants and contracts, tuition and fees, investment income, auxiliary enterprises (like housing), and sales and services of educational activities (like tutoring).
Is the university in financial trouble?
Absolutely not. To the contrary, careful stewardship and planning over the past few years have left Marshall University in strong financial condition compared to most other universities across the country.
How long will this situation last?
We don’t know the answer. What happens in the future will largely depend on the state’s budget situation in fiscal year 2014 and beyond. However, it is clear that permanent changes to the university’s financial model will be necessary. We must become more flexible and able to respond quickly to economic downturns like the one the state is now experiencing.
What exactly is a “sweep” of funds?
It means most of the available balances in targeted revenue accounts have been consolidated into a single account from which departments will need to request withdrawals. The departments’ existing bills and commitments will be paid from that consolidated account. A minimum of $5,000 or the existing balance, whichever is less, was left to assist departments during the transition to the new system.
How much money was “swept” from these revenue accounts?
The final figure will likely be in the millions. A firm figure is not yet available because budget officers are still sorting out all the encumbrances and other commitments.
What about money that is already encumbered or otherwise committed?
All encumbered commitments will be honored and adjustments will be made to cover unencumbered March Purchasing Card transactions.
What about fees that have been collected for specific purposes—like course/lab fees or clinic fees?
The purposes for which specific fees were collected will be preserved.
Does this mean our department can’t spend any of the money from these accounts?
No. This doesn’t mean that the money is absolutely not available to spend. It simply means that people have to ask first and be able to justify expenses from those accounts.
These revenue accounts represent funds that are generally more discretionary or flexible in nature. People may be asked to delay some purchases—a piece of equipment, for instance—or to look at less expensive options.
If a department requests a release and it is granted, those funds will be restored to that account and will be available for spending. In fact, some requests have already been granted and those funds have been released.
How do we request funds be released?
There is a simple process in place for people to request a release of funds from those revenue accounts. Quick turnaround of all requests is guaranteed. Details and the one-page request form are available here.
What does the hiring freeze mean?
It means that vacant positions, including full-time faculty and staff, cannot be filled unless permission is requested and received through the new process outlined below.
What if we already have a search in progress?
This hiring freeze does not apply to searches already in progress. Those searches may proceed.
What positions are exempt from the freeze?
Positions that are considered “mission-critical” are exempt from these new measures. Remember, though, recruitment for all vacant positions will need to be approved through the process and a “mission critical” determination will be made on a case-by-case basis. More information and a list of the types of positions that may be exempted are available here.
How do we request permission to hire someone?
Details about the process for requesting permission to fill a position, along with the necessary forms, are available here.