Shalala addresses Faculty Senate

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala delivered an address yesterday to the Faculty Senate in what has now become a yearly tradition.

After a brief presentation conducted in unison with Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc, Shalala fielded questions from the attendees. For the first time, the meeting was webcasted live by UMTV.

“I’m never off the record. I’m very happy to have this opportunity,” Shalala said of the option to address online viewers as well as the senators.

Shalala and LeBlanc’s joint address centered on the financial situation facing UM. They emphasized that while the university continues to be in a cash crunch, administrators do not expect the same level of uncertainty for this fiscal years as compared to the previous year.

After the downturn of the economy in November 2008, the university implemented expenditure controls and eliminated every optional program. They also instituted a very conservative budget for this year that required a seven-percent cut to every school.

“The fact that we moved very quickly had a huge impact last year and allowed us to weather the storm,” LeBlanc said.

He said that the university had $1.8 billion invested through various vehicles last year which lost a combined $450 million in investments and endowments.

LeBlanc added that the base-line funding has been permanently reduced and that it will take some time to raise it back to where it was.

After the presentation, Shalala and LeBlanc answered questions for close to an hour that ranged from student jobs to the financial situation at Jackson Memorial Hospital.