President's Blog

Update on the Virginia State Budget

A letter to the Mason community, Sep. 2, 2014

Dear Patriot,

Recently, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced a tax revenue shortfall for the 2014-16 biennium of $2.4 billion and asked state agency heads to produce budget savings plans for fiscal year 2015 (which started July 1, 2014) equal to 5 percent of the institution’s adjusted legislative general fund appropriation and 7 percent for fiscal 2016.

Last week the state confirmed that colleges and universities need to respond and produce similar plans by September 19. In devising the plans, we have been asked to emphasize recurring rather than one-time savings. The only exemption to these cuts in higher education will be state financial aid. The state also discouraged colleges and universities from submitting reduction strategies that include mid-year tuition increases.

In order to meet these challenges, I have asked deans and unit leaders to produce budget savings proposals of at least 2.5 percent of their E&G budget and that each central unit produce proposals of at least 3 percent. The proposals are to be completed and submitted to the Provost and Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration no later than September 11.

In producing these plans it is important that we protect the core academic mission and that we think of creative ways to increase efficiency while emphasizing the core priorities in the university’s strategic plan.

Beyond the immediate budget challenge, this reduction in state support further highlights the need for state universities to reconsider elements of their traditional financial models. George Mason University is no exception. In the years ahead we will need to become even more self-sufficient and find creative ways to deliver on our mission with less public support.

The budget model redesign that we initiated last year takes on a new level of urgency, as do our efforts to revamp enrollment processes throughout the university, generate incremental revenue through new programs, public-private partnerships, increased fund-raising, and better use of our current assets.

Provost David Wu and Senior Vice President J.J. Davis will hold a budget forum town hall at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 4, in Dewberry Hall North in the Johnson Center. During the forum both David and J.J. will be prepared to provide additional information and answer any questions you may have. The budget forum will also be accessible as follows:

    •    Prince William—Bull  Run 254

    •    Arlington—Founders Hall B119

    •    Front Royal—Academic  219

    •    Loudoun—Signal Hill 101

While I recognize that this process will generate its share of challenges, ultimately the actions outlined above will help us build a stronger, more vibrant, more successful George Mason for the future.

Ángel Cabrera