U of M proposed budget focuses on maintaining progress toward strategic goals
As an eventful and successful academic year wraps up across the University of Minnesota, the Board of Regents will review the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget at its June meetings. The balanced budget presented to Regents shows the U of M remains in a stable financial position, though it also reflects a collection of significant challenges that will need to be strategically addressed over the next year and beyond.
“Our state relies on the University of Minnesota to educate students, develop our future workforce, employ Minnesotans and engage Minnesota communities to solve our most perplexing problems. Successfully operating a leading research university capable of meeting all of these demands requires complex and detailed budgeting and planning,” said Board Chair Janie Mayeron. “Our Board appreciates how much time and energy University staff poured into this proposed budget. We are looking forward to hearing from our community as we consider how we utilize the budget to continue our strong progress on MPact 2025 goals and our day-to-day work on behalf of students and the state.”
The recommended fiscal 2024 operating budget forecasts roughly $4.4 billion in expenses, to be balanced by approximately $4.5 billion in revenues. While the proposed budget forecasts revenue outpacing last year, that growth is not expected to fully match the anticipated 4% rise in costs.
The proposed budget prioritizes advancing the University’s strategic goals, which begin with the success of U of M students. The University’s comprehensive systemwide strategic plan, MPact 2025, has 21 different goals focused entirely on students, ranging from bolstering financial aid and reducing student debt, to investments in on-time graduation and successful career outcomes. Support for students, as well as faculty and staff, are priorities throughout the budget.
Out of necessity, the budget also has to account for continued inflationary pressures and other revenue challenges, such as those related to tuition revenue in the past year. Balancing these negative budget effects is only possible, in part, with continued and difficult internal reallocation of existing resources.
Attracting and retaining talented faculty and staff are essential to achieving the University’s student-focused goals, as well as other strategic goals related to research, technology commercialization, community engagement, and more. Recognizing this imperative, this year’s budget recommends continued investment in the more than 27,000 U of M employees statewide, proposing systemwide merit-based increases that average 3.75%.
To balance the budget, new revenue or internal savings offset significant cost increases related to faculty and staff compensation increases, maintenance and improvements to infrastructure (including physical buildings and technology), student and staff recruiting, and student financial aid, among other cost drivers. In response, the University has pushed all units to enhance efficiency and focus resources on the highest strategic impacts or needs, especially those that serve students or the University’s mission. Reduced spending and reprioritization in the coming year is a critical component to mitigating $178 million of increased year-over-year expenses.
As has been foreshadowed during previous budget discussions with the Board and state lawmakers, recommendations for the coming year include an increase in undergraduate tuition — 1% for the Crookston, Duluth and Morris campuses, and 3.5% for Rochester and the Twin Cities. These proposed numbers would extend the University’s commitment to holding tuition rate increases below the rate of inflation, a practice that’s become more challenging each year as the real costs of necessary expenses have grown and state investment as a percentage of the budget has decreased. Funding allocated by elected leaders for fiscal 2024 is an essential component of the proposed budget, but is far less than what was requested to support core mission activities.
Public Forum on the recommended operating budget
The Board will accept public comments on the Recommended FY 2024 Annual Operating Budget as it considers action later this month.
A public forum will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 8. Sign-up will take place beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the West Committee Room, sixth floor, McNamara Alumni Center. Each available, three-minute speaking slot will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
Written comments may also be submitted online through June 20 at 11:59 a.m. All written comments will become part of the public record.
The Board is also expected to:
- Adopt its meeting schedule for 2023-24.
- Elect Board officers to serve two-year terms, positions that include Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.
- Receive an annual review of Board of Regents Policy: Code of Conduct for Members of the Board of Regents.
- Act on the administration’s recommended fiscal 2024 capital improvement budget.
- Receive an update on enrollment coordination in a systemwide look at strategic enrollment planning across the University’s campuses.
- Discuss distributed learning strategy with faculty and leadership.
- Receive updates on public safety and the Positioned for Excellence, Alignment and Knowledge (PEAK) initiative.
- Discuss the University’s policies and approaches to managing public records, focusing particularly on the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
- Receive annual reports from governance leaders representing faculty and staff.
- Act on proposed amendments to two Board policies, Board of Regents Policy: Endowment Fund and Board of Regents Policy: Disability Services.
- Recognize outgoing University President Joan Gabel and her husband, Gary Gabel.
The Board’s next regular meeting will be scheduled as part of its annual meeting on Friday, June 9. Visit regents.umn.edu for more information.