The University System of Georgia Board of Regents meeting Dec. 3 in a special session by conference call voted to increase student fees and raise the amount employees pay in health insurance premiums to help meet an anticipated directive from state officials to increase the budget cut to 8 percent from the current 6 percent.
“We are facing an economic crisis of a magnitude unprecedented since World War II, but to date have been able to avoid the worst because of prudent planning by our budget team beginning about this time last year,” President Michael F. Adams said. “While we are feeling some pain across the institution, we have worked hard to maintain our core missions of teaching students, conducting research and providing public service to the state of Georgia, and for that we thank every faculty member, staff member and student for their efforts in this cause.”
An 8 percent budget cut at UGA is $39.7 million, including $32.1 million from the Resident Instruction budget and $7.6 million from the B budgets.
The regents’ action reduces the employer contribution rate for the PPO and HMO health insurance plans from 75 percent to 70 percent, thereby increasing employee costs effective Jan. 1. An open enrollment period through Dec. 15 will allow those who wish to adjust their plan choices to do so.
Waiving the policy on timetable and procedures for setting mandatory student fees, the regents also instituted a fee of $100 per semester effective spring semester 2009 at the four research universities and six comprehensive universities, $75 at the remaining comprehensive universities and $50 at access institutions.
The university continues to hold vacant 167 faculty positions, 183 for staff, 47 graduate assistants and 52 student workers.
“This translates to class sections not offered, student course needs that are unmet and programs that are canceled, placing our institution under strain,” said Adams, who added that the possibility remains that a budget reduction beyond 8 percent may be required in the future. While pay raises effective Jan. 1 remain in the budget, the prospects for further raises in fiscal year 2010 are “slim,” Adams said.
“Our neighboring states and peer institutions across the nation face these same issues,” Adams said. “I remain grateful that UGA is located in Athens, with its strong sense of community and its good quality of life, for I think in difficult economic times such factors become increasingly important.”