Shalala addresses SG Senate, details plans to combat economic downturn

President Donna E. Shalala  



President Donna E. Shalala

In this rough economy, the University of Miami is playing it safe.

At a meeting with the Student Government Senate on Oct. 8, university President Donna E. Shalala explained the university’s response to the current economic situation.

“It’s not like we don’t have money, we are just trying to save it,” Shalala said.

Her strategy to save money is to cut fat from the budget. Money saving options includes raising the temperature in classrooms and converting light maintenance to electric engines.

Some bus routes will be cut to save money. Shalala said these bus routes cost millions of dollars and are inefficient at times.

“I see the busses bunching up,” she said. “It like they have an affinity for each other.”

The bus routes to Coconut Grove will not be affected.

Teaching vacancies will not immediately be filled, as academic deans and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc will have to justify filling the empty spot.  This slowdown will ensure current employees that the university will honor their commitments to them and that their job here is safe.

However, on Oct. 2 UM’s Web site announced eight new teachers were being appointed to the School of Business.

Commitments to students will also be honored and students will not feel the squeeze in a large way.

“Sebastian the Ibis will still be at graduation,” she said.

Tuition will not dramatically increase but will rise with cost-of-living increases. Shalala also assured the Student Government Senate that students will not be nickel and dimed.

“There will be no cutbacks in scholarships and loans already awarded,” Shalala said. “We are going to honor our commitments and recruit freshman and offer them scholarships.”

The economic slowdown will not impact upperclassmen scholarships, as that investment will increase in order to attempt to maintain and exceed the school’s 90 percent retention rate.

Construction on campus is not going to be interrupted. The multipurpose building next to the BankUnited  Center will be completed. This building will have two basketball courts and a room that can hold over 1,000 students where movies and lectures can be given.

The new Student Activities Center is also on schedule, which means the Rathskeller, where the SAC will stand, is still scheduled to close on Dec. 5.

According to Shalala, an impact on the school will come from declining donation in the months to come. She predicts that donations under $1,000 could go down, while larger donations will be spread out over longer periods of time.

Donations at this time have not slowed. Allan and Patti Herbert are expected to donate $8 million to the Wellness Center and a $2 million estate gift from the late Warren Johnson developed a new chaired professorship

The university has had large expenditures in the past including Cedars Medical Center, a 560-bed hospital. However, the profits from the hospital benefit the Coral Gables campus.

“When they make money they improve the experience at the Coral Gables campus,” Shalala said.

She continued to say that people always get sick no matter what the state of the economy and always need medical attention.

The university views itself in a “recession-proof bubble” in terms of enrollment. As the economy weakens Shalala said more students will go back to school to make themselves more competitive in the job market.

The school as a whole will not slow down and will continue to rise in the US News and World Report Rankings according to Shalala.

“In the next three years we will be in the top tier,” Shalala said. “The last thing we want to do is cut corners and not continue our progress.”

October 8, 2008


Ed S. Fishman

News Editor

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