University of Montana Facing $6 Million Budget Deficit

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA — The University of Montana faces a nearly $6 million budget deficit for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year and has implemented a “hiring chill” as its leaders look for ways to save money due to decreased enrollment.

University President Royce Engstrom issued a budget update Wednesday that said tenured professors will be asked to do more teaching and student advising while the use of adjunct faculty will likely decrease.

Mike Reid, the university’s vice president of finance and administration, said about $3.2 million of the revenue shortfall will be covered by savings on items such as utilities, printing and software purchases, while another $2.5 million will come from departments.

“Since the beginning of the academic year, when the enrollment looked soft among upper division students, we implemented a hiring chill,” Reid said. “We looked at restructuring and using attrition to help make up the savings, and it’s helping the departments identify some funds.”

The university’s fiscal 2015 budget will start with $9 million less in base spending than last year, the Missoulian reported.

Last spring, the university asked five working groups to find ways to cut costs and increase enrollment. The groups’ recommendations will come into play as the budget committee looks toward 2015.

The working group assigned to find cost reductions suggested finding ways to save on travel and leveraging the university’s buying power to save money. Other suggestions included offering more classes in the summer and integrating Missoula College with the main campus.

Efforts to increase enrollment include offering more scholarships, making earlier contact with potential students and making it easier to apply for admission. UM had 1,656 first-time freshmen enroll in 2002, a number that fell to 1,175 in 2012.

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