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Message from the University Budget Advisory Committee

by Rodney Tanaka

March 7, 2021

Read 4 mins

Hello WesternU,

It’s quiz time. So here goes. What’s a UBAC?

A. A building somewhere on the campus of WesternU.

B. A mumbled greeting to fellow employees returning from lunch.

C. The Sasquatch-like creature that roams the forests of Linn County, Oregon.

D. A committee of WesternU employees charged with advising the President and the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) on proposed budget prioritization of Priority Pool 2 funds and allocation of incremental operating resources.

That’s right. D it is!

Some fun facts about the University Budget Advisory Committee are:

– It is co-chaired by the Senior Vice President for Mission Integration and the Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. That would be Dr. Stephanie Bowlin and Dr. Clive Houston-Brown.

– The committee includes members representing a broad range of University people and processes. These include three faculty members recommended by the Chair of the University Academic Senate, Deans from five different colleges, four Operations Council members, two Directors of Operations and an SGA Representative. These members are appointed for overlapping three-year terms.

– There are seven ex-officio members, those who are on the committee due to the position that they hold. These include the Senior Vice President and Provost, the Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, the Vice President for Finance and Budget Administration, the Vice President for Oregon Campus Operations, the Senior Vice President for Research, the Senior Vice President of University Student Affairs, and the Senior Vice President for University Advancement.

– The committee’s charge also includes educating the University Community on fiscal matters and decisions required in balancing the University operating budget.

Enough about the committee, many are probably still wondering, “What are Priority Pool 2 funds?”

WesternU uses Priority Pools to categorize funding requests. The six Priority Pools are:

1. Program Review Action Plans

Resources necessary to implement and complete ongoing periodic program reviews (that evaluate the effectiveness of a program for providing the education, student services, or administrative services with the expressed outcome of increased student learning).

2. Current Academic and Operational Enhancements

Resources for existing University wide mission-based academic and operational activities and investments. This pool includes student and faculty centered initiatives. Maintaining the quality of delivering education, producing and having the ability to measure positive student outcomes and addressing the cost of education.

3. Strategic and Operational Pillars

Resources for ongoing and new strategic pillars representing collections of projects and programs beyond the organization’s day-to-day operational activities that are designed to elevate the organization in an effort to achieve its targeted performance. Operational pillars, providing the campus with opportunities to improve administrative processes and enhance our people and service-oriented culture. Includes infrastructure and shared support services for new and expanded programs, i.e., funds required for basic physical,

organizational structures, and facilities for new and expanded programs along with additional requirements including all potential support services.

4. Contractual and Committed Obligations

Resources for University wide executed contractual obligations and financial commitments as part of the normal course of operations and financing activities. Contractual obligations include future cash payments required under existing contracts, such as debt and lease agreements. These obligations may result from both general financing activities and from commercial arrangements that are directly supported by related operating activities. These resources will also be considered when addressing funds required to maintain certain surplus levels on a statutory basis with lenders and governmental agencies.

5. Capital Project/Equipment Replacement/Deferred Maintenance Funds

Capital replacement refers to outdated, obsolete, or irreparable capital construction and items that may need to be replaced. Deferred maintenance is postponed maintenance activities such as future repairs on both real property (e.g. infrastructure) and personal property (e.g. equipment) in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies.

6. Salary and Fringe Benefits

Resources for salary and wages provided to employees. In addition to salaries and wages, fringe benefits can be in the form of time off, such as paid vacation or sick time, or for benefits with monetary value such as 403(b) contributions, health insurance coverage, and life insurance coverage. The university will reserve funds to cover any increase in this area such as related salary pool and fringe benefits increases.

UBAC is primarily focused on Priority Pool 2 – Current Academic and Operational enhancements.

WesternU follows a well-defined budget development process. In short, the process starts almost a year prior with the Pre-Plan phase, the budget gets Board of Trustees approval in March, and it goes into effect on July 1. Then a (very) short break and back to pre-planning for the next year.

Pre-Plan August – September

Communication of Process October – December

Launch & Gather Information December – January

Review & Consolidate February

Finalize (BOT approval) March

We are nearing the end of the budget development process for the fiscal year July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Requests for funding were submitted by the colleges and operating units as part of the Launch and Gather Information phase of the process and were recently reviewed by UBAC with input from constituent groups. UBAC will present its recommendations to the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) in time to include them in the budget that is proposed to the Board of Trustees for approval later this month.

That’s enough for this episode. Please stay tuned for more budget information from UBAC.


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