FIU announces hiring freeze, other cutbacks
By Paola Iuspa
Expecting to face a $3 million budget shortfall, Florida International University is instituting a hiring freeze and must find more ways to save money.
Chuck Tinder, FIU assistant vice president of budget & planning, said state funds could be scarcer next year.
FIU faculty and staff will not be cut but vacant positions will go unfilled, Mr. Tinder said. Salary increases for this year will not be reduced, said a memo from Provost Mark Rosenberg to university employees. He wrote that the budget must be trimmed to make up for a $3 million cut in state funds, previously earmarked for the school.
"To address this situation, we are freezing all hiring immediately, with the exception of those hired through contract, grants or auxiliary funding," according to the memo. "We also expect significant cutbacks in expense dollars, particularly in contracting student assistants and purchasing commodities such as computers."
FIU may not be the only disappointed state university.
"The state is sending us and our counter-partners at other universities the message that they don't have enough money," Mr. Tinder said.
FIU had planned on $150 million in state funds to help balance its $228 million operating budget. The school's total budget, including funds allocated for research, scholarships and student activities, is about $425 million.
And Mr. Tinder said funds could be drastically reduced next year. FIU's fiscal year begins July 1.
"A financial outlook for 2002-03 shows the state will have $260 million available to disburse not only for education, but also Medicaid, juvenile justice issues and others," he said. "Universities' requests for next year is almost $294 million."
Legislators passed a 71/2% increase in FIU's tuition this year, that, Mr. Tinder said was done to have students share the burden. Although the number of FIU students has increased in the past three years, spokeswoman Maydel Santana said the state has not increased its allocation.
Mr. Tinder said there are no plans to stop expansion and a new law school, scheduled to open in fall, would not be delayed.