Board of Regents Approves FY 2001 Budget
Responsiveness to the state's educational, economic and health care needs, achieving regional and national competiveness, and continued momentum for the University System's pursuit of academic excellence are goals of the Board of Regents' Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request, approved today by the Committee on Finance and Business Operations.
At their monthly meeting in Atlanta, the Board of Regents approved a $1.638 billion Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request, while meeting as a Committee of the Whole. The budget is expected to receive the Board of Regents' full and final approval at the full board meeting on Wednesday, and will be considered by the Governor and the General Assembly for funding during the 2000 legislative session. The request is intended to support Gov. Roy Barnes' higher education goals for the state -- including rural economic development and enhancing the state's niche in the information technology arena.
"This budget addresses realistic needs -- both for the University System and for our state," said Chancellor Stephen R. Portch. "It will provide funding to help us anticipate and respond to the increasing demands on higher education, including further positioning of Georgia as a knowledge-based economy."
The budget contains $33 million in enhancements, anchored by $14.2 million in technology requests that include funds for master planning, a statewide on-line learning initiative, an enhanced electronic library, campus network upgrades and faculty and staff technology training. Building on an existing technology infrastructure, the University System aims to help Georgians become viable players in the Information Age workforce, optimizing the state's resources to enhance its economic position.
In addition to its Technology Strategy for FY 2001, the University System is requesting allocations for these additional and/or continuing special funding initiatives:
* The Georgia Eminent Scholars Program - $6.5 million: This funding will be used to match private sector donations to create endowed academic chairs at certain University System institutions, allowing them to actively recruit eminent scholars to their faculties.
* Investing in Excellence at Historically Black Universities - $4.5 million: This initiative is aimed at enhancing the ability of the USG's three historically black institutions to attract and retain diverse students at the undergraduate and graduate levels; increasing the number of programs with national accreditation; improving institutional infrastructure, student access and student success; and matching federal funds for Fort Valley's agricultural mission.
* UGA/MCG Biomedical Sciences Collaboration - $4 million: These funds will be used to create a statewide Biomedical Services Network, linking the University of Georgia with the Medical College of Georgia, which will expand collaborative, interdisciplinary research between the two institutions and increase biomedical research funding for the state of Georgia.
* ICAPP Rural Economic Development Initiative - $2.7 million: Addressing the needs of the state's communities which have the highest unemployment rate, the lowest per capita income, and the highest percentage of residents whose incomes are below the poverty level, are the goals of this initiative. It is aimed at improving economic opportunities by expanding partnerships, complementing the strategies of the Rural Economic Development Commission; and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism; and leveraging the assets of the University System through six new initiatives, such as a one-year pilot project to educate communities, companies and citizens on e-commerce and its opportunities.
* South Georgia's Regional Engineering Program, Phase II - $800,000: This initiative is aimed at meeting the need for more qualified engineers over the next decade, especially in computer and electrical engineering as well as other cyclical shortages in key fields. Innovative distance learning programs for working professionals are the key component of this program.
* Hispanic Program Initiatives - $375,000: This funding will allow the University System to implement recommendations of its Hispanic Task Force report, and ensure access to educational opportunity for the state's burgeoning Hispanic population, which is expected to double in the next 20 years. Increasing the number of USG graduates with certification in English as a second language.
* Faculty Salaries: The Board of Regents proposal also addresses faculty and staff compensation, and urges the Governor to recommend an increase in the range needed to assure that Georgia colleges and universities can continue to attract and retain the best academic personnel.
* Capital Budget - FY 2001: The University System's capital funding request is grouped into three areas: major, minor and payback projects. For the past three years, the University System has shaped a multi-year Major Capital Priorities List that links capital needs with academic and workforce priorities. This year's major list, which includes 26 projects in priority order totalling $496.1 million, was approved by the regents at their June meeting, along with four payback project requests, to be supported by fee revenues, totaling $42 million. The minor's list, approved for the first time today, includes 18 projects totalling $66 million.
In addition to the $1.6 billion Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request, the Board of Regents also approved the University System's proposed $45.2 million Fiscal Year 2000 Supplemental Budget Request, which includes funds to help the Medical College of Georgia address its fiscal shortfall, to remedy hazardous waste situations at UGA, and to enhance further technical infrastructure.
According to Regent Glenn S. White, chair of the Board of Regents' Committee on Finance and Business Operations, the University System's budget request promotes strategic budgeting strategies while balancing the need to keep costs low. "All state agencies were informed of the cap for percentage increases in their budget, but the Board of Regents did not take advantage of that cap; we limited the amount of the increase that we requested," he stated. "We recognize that Gov. Barnes has many competing priorities to address, and our intention is to move the state's and the Board of Regents' higher education agenda in a cost-effective manner."
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