Todd Says University Must Move Forward
Media Contact: Jay Blanton, 859-257-3303/699-0041
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 17, 2008) - University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. today said the proposed budget for 2008-2009, while challenging and "far from perfect," represents UK's decision to move forward rather than retreat from the responsibility of leading Kentucky and striving for Top 20 status.
The $2.2 billion budget, approved by the UK Board of Trustees, handles some $20 million in state cuts by freezing pay for faculty and staff and eliminating 188 positions. All but 15 of those positions - staff positions - are currently vacant.
Todd said the budget is designed to minimize tuition increases and job losses, while protecting academic instruction, scholarships and benefits for employees, such as minimal health care premium increases
"There is pain here that no one seeks and no one deserves. In it lies the sacrifice of our students, who will pay more tuition. In it, too, lies the sacrifice of our faculty and staff, who will not see their pay increase," Todd said in a letter to trustees and the state. "Every budget represents a choice. We can choose to go forward or we can choose to retreat.
"Today, we choose to go forward."
UK's budget was cut by about $10 million in recurring state funds in January 2008. The budget adopted by the General Assembly in April 2008 cut another $10 million in recurring funding. At the same time, university officials had to address increasing costs of more than $11 million, including more than $3.5 million in personnel increases; a $2.3 million increase in utility costs and a $1.4 million increase in student financial aid to try to keep pace with increases in tuition.
Those personnel increases, most significantly, include the university's decision to bear a majority of the cost of increased health care insurance so employees would not experience substantial premium increases. UK also maintained a $5 million staff enhancement pool, designed to increase benefits such as a family education program that university faculty and staff had pushed for following a comprehensive work-life study in 2006.
UK is increasing tuition for the 2008-2009 academic year by 9 percent, the second year in a row such increases have been in the single digits, meaning that for the first time tuition dollars now support more of the university's general fund budget than state support.
In fact, in the last 10 years - even as UK's overall budget has doubled from $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion - state support has decreased from 27.4 percent of the university's budget to 14.6 percent. The increases in UK's overall budget stem largely from the growth of UK HealthCare and the institution's research efforts. UK HealthCare's budget for the coming year will be nearly $765 million, more than double the amount from 2003.
"We do a disservice to (the) sacrifices (of our faculty and staff) if we abandon our aspirations and put them on hold until circumstances change," Todd said. "It is our duty to remain focused on the work before us. It is our responsibility to … make clear again and again the promise of Top 20 status.
"It is our work that must continue to matter, every day, in the lives of the people who depend upon their flagship university to lead Kentucky forward."
In other action today, by unanimous votes the board approved Todd's bonus for his performance during the 2007-2008 academic year and extended his contract for three more years.
Under a performance evaluation process that reviewed 10 institutional goals, the board gave Todd the highest score he has received since becoming president: 97 out of a possible 100. That translated into being eligible for 97 percent of the possible $150,000 bonus outlined in his contract. However, he accepted only $95,500 of that amount and asked the board to transfer the remaining $50,000 to campus programs.
Under the contract extension Todd will serve as president until June 30, 2011.