Shalala addresses Faculty Senate off-the-record

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala addressed the Faculty Senate in a meeting this afternoon. In light of worsening economic conditions, she outlined contingency plans that will take the university through the next two years and is geared towards lowering expenses and protecting the university’s in-hand cash.

In past years, the university saw unprecedented growth through investments, but this growth has been overturned by the current economic climate. The administration has been trying during the past few months to find ways to cut expenses so as to avoid going to the credit market to borrow money and hurt the university’s cash position.

Because of the sensitive nature of the meeting’s content, The Miami Hurricane was asked to defer publication until the Faculty Senate General Welfare Committee has discussed it.

“We have already implemented a wide range of measures and are now taking an even more comprehensive look at how it will impact short- and long-term University operations,” said Shalala, in a letter to the university community earlier this week. “We do not know how long this downturn will last, but it would be prudent to define short-term as at least the next two years.”

In the letter, Shalala also dispelled fears of across-the-board layoffs. She said that while she could not guarantee that projects won’t be closing as it normally happens at a university, massive layoffs are not part of the plan. The university has frozen hiring since last December and all capital projects that weren’t already well underway have been stopped.

According to Shalala, however, the priority is to protect the core of the university’s mission: teaching, research and clinical care. They are also focused on protecting the jobs of full-time employees.