University President Mary Sue Coleman announced plans to cut an additional $120 million in annual recurring expenses from the University’s budget and discussed an initiative to hire 50 new faculty members as part of her State of the University address yesterday.

Speaking before a crowd of University administrators, faculty, staff and even a few students, Coleman also praised the academic work of students on campus during her speech in the University of Michigan Museum of Art auditorium.

In last year’s speech, Coleman announced that University officials would double their cost-cutting efforts and cut $100 million in recurring expenses from the budget over the course of three years. However, yesterday’s announcement essentially tripled the University’s original cost cutting goals.

“Because of economic forecasts and a decline in state support that we do not expect will reverse any time soon, we now know that we must identify another $120 million in savings by 2017,” Coleman said in her speech.

In an interview after the speech, Coleman stressed the cuts would be focused in non-academic areas as much as possible, in order to preserve students’ learning experiences.

If successfully completed, the additional cuts would bring the total amount in cost containment at the University to $355 million in annual recurring costs.

“We invest in our future by providing record levels of financial aid to students and modest salary increases to faculty and staff,” Coleman said in her speech. “We invest by being aggressive in how we use energy, by being more efficient with administrative functions and by taking more control of our personal health to hold down insurance costs.”

The effort to cut the additional $120 million will be led by University Provost Philip Hanlon, who serves as chief academic officer and chief budget officer, Coleman said. According to her speech, the campus community should expect to hear more from him about the efforts in the near future.

Though decisions on specific measures are largely undecided, several University officials have told The Michigan Daily they are considering cost-cutting measures to the University’s information technology division, to shared services operations and reorganizing maintenance of campus facilities.

“Just as the external world has changed, we too need to introduce the same kinds of internal innovation,” Coleman said. “As we have been, we will be deliberate and thoughtful, focusing on reducing administrative and operational costs, with an eye firmly on enhancing the academic mission.”

Coleman also highlighted plans approved by the University’s Board of Regents in June as part of the University’s annual budget proposal to allocate funding for the hiring of 50 additional faculty members.

“In this year’s budget we have funded an additional 50 tenure-track faculty positions,” Coleman said. “This complements the ongoing junior faculty initiative and ultimately will improve our student-faculty ratio. We are looking to our deans for how best to structure these positions, which will be filled by scholars with a wide range of experience.”

The proposal in June came after Coleman’s 2007 announcement that $30 million in central funding would be allocated to hire 100 junior level faculty members with expertise in various interdisciplinary studies, which Coleman also discussed yesterday.

“Three years ago, we launched an initiative to hire 100 junior faculty up-and-coming professors committed to interdisciplinary teaching and research that explores the truly complex issues of our day,” Coleman said. “Our faculty and deans have collaborated on fascinating proposals for these new teams, and to date we have funded more than 70 positions, with 25 faculty already hired and on campus.”

Coleman also highlighted student-recruiting efforts aimed at maintaining the high academic standards of the University.

“Recruiting the best also applies to students. We continue to attract exceptional students at all levels of study,” Coleman said. “Students are drawn to our campuses because of what we have to offer, and we offer a lot.”

Throughout the speech, Coleman also highlighted the innovative research and teaching being done by faculty that helps advance the academic mission of the University and showcased the work of a few students on campus who have exemplified the Michigan experience. Students she cited included those who go above and beyond in their classes, those who use extra-curricular activities to supplement their studies and a group of students who will soon have a satellite they designed launched into space.

“Faces change, buildings fall and rise, economies wax and wane. The University of Michigan thrives,” Coleman finished her speech by saying. “We thrive because a great public university always looks forward, knowing there is nothing more powerful, more invigorating and more essential than creating and sharing knowledge.”

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