No doubt, you have heard about the challenges being faced by our state leaders as they tackle the Texas budget. The issues are indeed complex and it will be some time before we know how the dust will settle. At this point, what is clear is that state agencies, including Tarleton State University, have experienced reductions in funding and have been asked to plan for additional cuts.

Last summer, we submitted a plan identifying savings totaling five percent (approximately $3.1 million) of our state appropriation for 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. We are now working on a plan detailing how we would reduce our state appropriation baseline funding by an additional ten percent (approximately $6.2 million) for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. Informal communications out of Austin and many news reports have suggested that all state universities and agencies may be required to implement an additional reduction between now and Sept. 1, 2011.

As a result of cost saving initiatives implemented by the university, $1.55 million required for fiscal year 2010 was returned to the state on Aug. 10. In September, at the start of fiscal year 2011, the state reduced our appropriation by another $1.55 million, leaving our budget short. We were able to offset most of the fiscal year 2011 budget reduction by our increased enrollment, 90 day position delays, energy conservation efforts and other cost saving actions. We are hopeful this strategy will hold true for the remainder of fiscal 2011 even if we are directed to take another cut between now and September.

It is clear the additional reductions being discussed in Austin for fiscal year 2011 and those we have been asked to plan for in 2012 and 2013, will require more than savings strategies and will necessitate that we make actual cuts in our budget, while still protecting the core educational mission of the university. Though loss of positions is a possibility we may have to confront, it is one we are trying diligently through enrollment growth and other cost-cutting measures to avoid.

For example, earlier this year, we asked the entire university community to submit ideas about how to reduce expenses and increase revenues. I must say there were some great suggestions. Our Budget Advisory Council, which is made up of representatives from across campus, has done a wonderful job sorting through the ideas and making recommendations for consideration to the university’s executive leadership team. A number of the recommendations received have already been implemented and a number remain under serious consideration.

We truly value the community’s participation in the life of Tarleton and wanted you to know how we are going about achieving the university’s mission in light of reduced funding. As a matter of fact, it is community involvement, along with the tremendous dedication of our talented faculty and staff, that will allow us to successfully navigate the current challenging economic waters and emerge a stronger, more focused university

As always, thank you for your support of Tarleton.

F. Dominic Dottavio, Ph.D.