Declining enrollment results in budget deficit; campus impacts expected


Information provided by Doug Clark, university spokesman

The recurring costs that divisions are being asked to reduced are expected to be implemented in the Spring 2019 semester.

PNW incurred a $1 million budget deficit for the Spring 2019 semester after student enrollment declined more than projected, according to a Feb. 25 campus memo.

Steve Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said that 49 percent of PNW’s budget is derived from student tuition and fees, explaining that this figure is subject to fluctuations and can be “highly volatile.” He added that significant declines in international student enrollment and the continuing decline of graduating high-school seniors in Northwest Indiana are most concerning.

“We have to acknowledge the reality of the environment,” Turner said. “Everyone is concerned with enrollment trends.”

As a result, each of PNW’s seven divisions are assigned with reducing their costs through the reduction of supplies and equipment, elimination of vacant positions or a “very limited” reduction in force of current staff positions, according to the memo. Turner added that Purdue University’s Treasurer approved the use of the Early Retirement Incentive Program, which awards a monetary package to eligible faculty who volunteer to retire, to help offset the deficit.

This year’s deficit marks the third consecutive year that PNW has incurred a budget shortfall. Last year, seven PNW staff members were laid off, and 13 positions were vacated, according to past reporting by The Pioneer.

Turner said that, while budget reductions can always occur, making reductions while retaining efficiency becomes “increasingly difficult to find and manage.” He denied that the recurring budget deficits and the resultant reductions have impeded any academic unit’s mission or functioning.

“Although [these decisions] are hard to make, this is what keeps us fiscally sound,” Turner said. “It would be unwise to not make them.”

Turner acknowledged Imagine PNW, the strategic resource allocation plan which is set to release its initial findings in the coming months, as a step toward preventing recurring budget difficulties.

“We do everything with a long term view,” Turner said. “[Imagine PNW] will best assure the future of PNW.”

Discussion of the budget deficit and the methods that will be taken to offset it are slated to be discussed tomorrow, March 8, at the Faculty Senate meeting.