President’s Budget Message – June 12, 2009

Dear members of the university community:

Our Board of Trustees met Friday morning to approve the 2009-10 budget and make several other decisions important to the future of FIU.

The most momentous decision, of course, was to name the Wertheim College of Medicine (WCOM), in honor of our long-time friend and benefactor Dr. Herbert Wertheim, who has made a $40 million gift (including state matching dollars). This gift is as transcendental as it is transformative because it guarantees the resounding success of our college of medicine right from its onset.

The Florida Legislature funded WCOM fully this year, for which we are especially grateful considering the economic climate. The Wertheim endowment – the largest cash gift in university history – will fund projects that we could never afford without this generous private donation. Half of the gift will be dedicated to scholarships, while the other half will support eight endowed chairs, a lecture series and an annual healthcare conference.

Also at this meeting the Board approved the naming of the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse at our new football stadium. Trustee Landon has committed $1 million to that project. Like Dr. Wertheim, Trustee Landon has a long history of supporting FIU in a variety of ways. We are so grateful to him and all of our supporters.

Budget cuts

Despite these and other recent donations – and indeed a banner year in fundraising – we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of having to make significant budget cuts because, as you know, our 2009-10 General Revenue has been reduced by 15 percent. Even after weeks of discussion with staff and faculty and a half-day budget workshop, our trustees struggled with the difficult choices presented to them. They were impressed with the passionate and thoughtful arguments made by members of the university community who addressed the board specifically on the issue of program closures.

In the end, the BOT voted to close 11 programs:

French education, BS
Mathematical sciences, BS
Occupational therapy, BS
Spanish education, BS, MAT
English education, MAT
French education, MAT
Mathematics education, MAT
Physical therapy, MS
Science education, MAT
Social studies education, MAT

Four programs were set aside for further review:

Recreation and sports management, BA, MS
Athletic training education, MS
Religious studies, BA

Closing four programs would have provided $1.1 million to help meet the budget shortfall. We will have to plan other actions to cut an equivalent amount from our budget. The closure of these programs may be revisited depending on the success of external fundraising.

Just as we are doing with the programs we closed last year, all students currently enrolled in programs that will be closed will be given the opportunity to complete the program over the next two or three years.

Regrettably, the approved budget calls for the elimination of approximately 170 positions, most of which are either vacant or will be vacated through attrition or will be shifted to other sources of funding. Just as we did last year, we are utilizing the resources of our Human Resources division to assist everyone whose job is being eliminated in identifying appropriate positions.

The budget processes of the past two years have been the most difficult we have endured in the history of FIU. However, I am confident that we have made the best possible decisions given the constraints we were given. We arrived at the plan our board approved today through an arduous process guided by our mission and strategic direction. We worked hard to make vertical cuts rather than weaken the core of the university. We are confident that this approach will ensure that FIU emerges from this financial crisis strong and well-positioned to resume its unprecedented trajectory of success.

I thank each of you who became involved in the budget process. You made a meaningful contribution to the future of our university.

Now that our 2009-10 budget has been approved, we will discontinue these weekly updates. Please look for periodic updates through the summer.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the university. I am eternally grateful for your support of the many goals we have accomplished together. I am humbled by the Board of Trustees’ decisions to rename University Park in my honor and confer upon me the title of President Emeritus. These recognitions are the pinnacle of an incredible journey.

Dates to note

Aug. 3, 2009          President Maidique Farewell (all employees invited)

Aug 7, 2009           Wertheim College of Medicine White Coat Ceremony (by invitation only)

Aug 28, 2009         Mark Rosenberg presidential installation (all employees invited) 

Modesto A. Maidique