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Posted on Fri. Nov. 15, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

No layoffs planned as IPFW addresses $4 million budget shortfall

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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne will compensate for a $4 million revenue shortfall without issuing any layoffs or staff reductions.

There are no discussions about using layoffs or staff reductions to balance this year's budget, nor any plans to do so, Nicole Wilkins, IPFW's chief communications officer, said Thursday.

“I think it is a plan campus is happy with,” Wilkins said. “I know last year was hard, with the layoffs.”

The university announced in March of this year — which was last school year — it would need to lay off about 15 people and leave about 24 job vacancies unfilled to deal with an $8.5 million budget deficit.

IPFW also announced in early October it had canceled its sponsorship of the RiverFest festival as it tried to focus funding in areas aligning more closely with its mission and priorities. IPFW had hosted RiverFest on its campus each June since 2010.

At that time, Wilkins said the university hoped to develop a plan by late October to deal with the $4 million loss in revenue, which was caused by students taking about 7,000 fewer credit hours of class than budgeted for this academic year.

IPFW actually saw an increase in new students but declines in the number of adult and graduate students, Wilkins said.

The plan to balance the budget will include three components, she said:

•IPFW will use $1.5 million of the $2 million that the state has given it this year. The state previously approved a one-time funding contribution to IPFW of $2 million this year and $2 million next year.

•Administrative and academic departments and offices will cut $1.4 million in expenses through a variety of ways, such as using fewer office supplies and less paper. Departments aren't being told to cut spending by a certain percentage, Wilkins said.

The university will continue to invest in areas where it is growing, which means some academic programs may not have to make any cuts, Wilkins said. One growth focus will be in the Honors program, which seeks to recruit and retain the area's top students.

•IPFW plans to generate $1.1 million in additional revenue by exceeding its targets for the number of fall students retained for the spring semester and for the number of students enrolling in the first session of summer classes.

While the university works to balance its budget, it will move ahead with hiring faculty and staff where needed and when vacancies occur, Wilkins said.

IPFW also has started pro-active efforts to prevent problems during the 2014-15 budget year, which begins July 1, 2014, she said.

IPFW is forming a university budget committee that will meet regularly throughout the year to monitor and discuss budget concerns and growth areas, Wilkins said. The committee will include representatives from faculty and staff in all areas of the university.

The university also has started its strategic planning process for years 2014-20, she said.

That has included meeting with and surveying area businesses and community leaders to learn what types of jobs will be available here in future years and what skills students will need to succeed in them, Wilkins said.

kkilbane@news-sentinel.com


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