The Campus Chronicle
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The Campus Chronicle, an online newspaper
for University of West Georgia faculty and staff, is the official
source for UWG news and information for all members of the campus community.

West Georgia Voices

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues at the University of West Georgia:

The severe budget challenges across the nation, and of particular interest to us, in Georgia, have had a serious impact on UWG. All faculty and staff are faced with increased insurance premiums, and our students will be assessed an additional $100 fee for the Spring semester. On the positive side, however, it is my pleasure to also inform you that your salary increases will go into effect as planned in January.

To understand these events completely, it is important for us to recognize a few key points:

1. Most importantly, I am grateful to you for your work and your continued contributions to UWG and to our students. We could not be successful without you.

2. The impact of the budget cuts both personally and professionally are significant ones, and I acknowledge those and deeply regret the necessity for them.

3. At times of stress, it is not uncommon to play the “blame game.” I earnestly request that we not
fall into such a trap. There are no villains here – the Board of Regents has acted promptly (as soon as State financial information was made available to them), the Chancellor and his staff have worked long and hard to develop alternative solutions that would share the pain among students and colleagues and institutional budgets, and your UWG colleagues have acted very responsibly. While one may be tempted to second guess the work of others, I doubt a universally-accepted “better solution” is out there.

4. We cannot over-emphasize the significance of the fact that, while UWG is one of the lower funded institutions, we have managed our scarce resources very well – this is thanks to our excellent leadership all across our campus. Particularly in this cycle, we exhibited extraordinarily sound fiscal planning when we built the FY 2009 budget. And so, today we find ourselves in much better shape to withstand the bad economic news than many of our peer institutions which are considering far more draconian measures than we are planning for. If the economic news does not get any worse, we will not have to come back to individual departments for mid-year budget cuts.

5. Because of our strong belief in the worth of the work of all individuals on this campus and because our good fiscal planning made it possible, we sent very strong messages to our bosses in Atlanta that we wanted to continue with our commitment to honor all raises which had been announced for January. This commitment impacts our budget significantly, not only for the current fiscal year (FY 2009), but for next year as well (FY 2010), because when we commit to a salary increase, we have to find the necessary amount in FY 09 and an additional amount for FY10 and thereafter (actually, the FY10 amount is even greater than that for FY09 because of vacant positions). In spite of this budget impact, we have strongly supported increases for all colleagues. Excerpts from a recent e-mail from me below:

The University of West Georgia strongly stands by its earlier recommendation that we retain our commitment to all previously announced raises -- regardless of the mode of communication (whether those raises were communicated by contract or letter). In tough times, we must rely on all of our colleagues to do much, much more, with far, far less, and we cannot have colleagues at *any* level of the institution and in *any* position giving their all to the institution and the state, and then being treated differently as far as raises are concerned.

As you know, the University of West Georgia is funded at a relatively low level in terms of $/FTE, relative to our peers, and indeed, even relative to some Access institutions -- it would take increased allocations of approximately six million dollars a year even to bring us up to the sector average. Even in spite of this concern, we budget a reserve for such contingencies and, when we were building the budget for FY 2009, we actually increased that reserve because we were following the economic news closely. This approach comes at a considerable cost, because we cannot use all our money to build in permanent increases for the future growth of the institution. But, we do it because it represents prudent fiscal management in changing times. If we, with all these constraints, can manage our budgets prudently and soundly, one might hope that other institutions can or should do so as well. If they do not, then that is their prerogative, but we respectfully suggest that such an approach not be a reason to deny us the ability to do what we wish to do, i.e. honor commitments for salary increments to all UWG colleagues.

I hope that you will take comfort in the fact that your university fought for and helped retain your
salary increases. Thanks to similar letters that several other Presidents wrote, and to the
Chancellor and his senior staff hearing our pleas, we may proceed with plans to award the
announced raises as of January 1, 2009. We hope this will ease some of the pain of budget cuts
and increased insurance premiums and help you on your way to a joyous holiday season.

Happy Holidays to all of you – let me end as I started, with an expression of sincere thanks to each and every one of you.

Sincerely,
Beheruz N. Sethna, Ph.D., C.C.P.
Professor of Business Administration and President of the University

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Dear Readers,

You are invited to submit a letter, a column of interest or an opinion to the editor. Please include your full name, address and daytime phone number for verification purposes. Submissions will be edited for length, accuracy, civility and clarity. Please e-mail your thoughts to the Campus Chronicle editor at kwagstaf@westga.edu.

Thank you for your interest and your contributions to the Campus Chronicle.

Kathy Wagstaff

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