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A Letter from Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw

To the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus community

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Mar 5, 2009


As you undoubtedly know, the impact of the current economic crisis has been extensive and has serious implications for all of us in the community, and for our nation and the world. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is also affected by the economic downturn and is feeling its impact. However, we have taken several important steps to help deal with this situation, including:

Imposing a freeze on hiring, with the exception of mission-critical personnel requests that must be submitted to my office for review, screening and approval.
Creating two campus committees to address issues on our strategic plan/academic priorities and decisions regarding budget allocations. The first committee is the Process Committee that created a prioritization process for our Mānoa campus.
The Budget Workgroup is charged with making recommendations needed to meet budget reductions, while addressing campus priorities as defined by our prioritization process.
As we change in our effort to become more efficient and responsive to our depressed economic climate, we will be doing all we can to limit job cuts, to increase revenues wherever possible, and to continue to ensure that our UH Mānoa students have every chance for academic success.

Unfortunately, the reality is that our budget situation is likely to worsen in the near future. Our State Legislature faces a huge budget deficit currently estimated at $1.8 billion over the next two years, and we at the University of Hawai‘i must be prepared to endure our fair share of budget cuts to accommodate reduced State revenues. We are uncertain what the final budget outcome will be for the FY 2009-11 biennium years, but expect increasing clarity as the current Legislature completes its deliberations over the next two months.

We must anticipate a reduction in our current level of support from the state which is $256 million in general funds these funds are extremely important because they are primarily used to meet salary obligations for our campus community. The Governor requested plans for the possibility of 10-20 percent reductions, which for UH Mānoa means a general fund reduction ranging potentially from $7.7 million to $19.5 million. In view of current economic trends, the larger reduction is more likely. And lawmakers are also closely scrutinizing special funds, including Research Training and Revolving Funds (RTRF) and others designated for specific purposes, such as building and operating our Cancer Research Center. Any future cuts would be in addition to a funding reduction we‘re already incurring in this current 2009 fiscal year of $6.6 million.

I share this information with you because you need to know that these are significant reductions for our institution. Finding solutions to the State‘s problems and the impact on UH Mānoa will not be easy, and perhaps the most difficult part for all of us is the uncertainty of what the outcome will be. No one has all the answers and there are no textbook solutions this is truly a different situation for the whole world. However, I know there are many great ideas in the minds of all of you as to how we can best deal with these changes. I have already heard a number of them, ranging from "paperless" ideas which save both time and money to program mergers which help accommodate our current limitations in hiring and might well strengthen both academic and administrative activities. Please provide your input and thoughts to the Budget Workgroup online. Together we will provide solutions and enable UH Mānoa to move forward in a positive way.

In my view, UH Mānoa is a major player in solving the economic crisis certainly and, most importantly, because we prepare educated citizens, but also because we generate resources for Hawai‘i. The UH Economic Research Organization estimates that every dollar invested in UH Mānoa generates $5.34 in spending here in Hawai‘i. Our research units have consistently brought $350-$400 million in grants and contracts to UH Mānoa each of the last four years and they are also organizing to take advantage of additional funds in the federal stimulus act for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation success in that area means more jobs and income for UH Mānoa and Hawai‘i. Also, thankfully, our alumni and friends continue to be generous in their support of our efforts, because they have passion for UH Mānoa — and we are very grateful to them.

Communication is extremely important in times like this, so we will be sending current information to you and sponsoring campus forums in the coming months as more information becomes available. In the meantime, I encourage you to study the information available online about the Process Committee and Budget Workgroup and to continue submitting comments and suggestions.

Be assured that our University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has overcome many challenges during its first century and we will most definitely meet this current one our goal is not simply to survive but truly to thrive as we move forward in our second century. This is the time for us to pull together and determine how to accomplish our mission, potentially in a different way, but always directed at serving Hawai‘i and the world through our contributions.

Mahalo to each and every one of you for your contributions.

Virginia S. Hinshaw, Chancellor