As a result of the decision made by University President Mary Sue Coleman and her cabinet to decline salary raises for next year, it is estimated that the University will save approximately $112,000.
This money would have been distributed among the executive officers who earn $200,000 to $280,000 per year, with the exception of Coleman who earns $475,000 and Interim Executive Vice President Lazar Greenfield.
Coleman said she announced her decision to the Board of Regents several weeks ago, and soon after her cabinet members independently expressed to her their desires to do the same. Coleman said the decision was largely symbolic.
Vice President for Government Relations Cynthia Wilbanks, who earns $222,000 said, “Under the circumstances I felt that this was an appropriate decision. We are serious about the budget challenges and each of us are really trying to do our share. This decision by the faculty comes as the University may be facing a budget gap of $76.4 million.
This gap includes the decrease in state aid under Governor Jennifer Granholm’s proposed budget, and Coleman said, “health insurance benefits for faculty and staff will probably increase by 15 to 17 percent and the University is constantly signing new contracts for utilities such as natural gas – factors that are also creating financial difficulties.”
Current plans to balance the budget include eliminating 50 faculty positions that were to be added next year, as well as 250 staff positions, although Coleman said that ultimately they would like to add these positions because the University is always trying to be more efficient.
The University has already implemented some layoffs and delayed renovations and equipment purchases. Coleman said she is, “very impressed by the way people are trying to work together to solve this problem.”
In response to questions concerning tuition increase Coleman said, “we do not know what the tuition rates will be yet, but any increase will be moderate. Normally, we would already know the budget and be acting, but the legislation has not passed anything yet because they are struggling with tough decisions as well.”
Although balancing the budget has been very difficult, Coleman does not expect tuition to increase the speculated 20 percent that some other institutions have reported. Coleman added that, “The University of Michigan is no longer the most expensive public University in the United States. Pennsylvania State University has recently surpassed (the University), and other universities are not far behind.”