February 6, 1996Dear Colleagues:
In my address to the campus community on November 14, I said, "We must think strategically as a University. We must plan and set priorities and make the hard choices to seize the right opportunities. Where does the University of Washington have comparative advantages? And where can it make the most difference? ... [We must think] strategically as a University. Now is the time. We must influence our University's evolution in a directed way."
But this will not be easy. In order to find resources to move the University ahead, to fund extraordinary programs, new and existing, I have decided to create a special budgetary reserve called the Fund for University Initiatives. Permanent money for the fund will come from a one percent assessment on University operating budgets beginning July 1, 1997. This policy will apply for the next five biennia and is expected to yield approximately $8 million for the first biennium.
We must maintain our competitive capacity as one of the nation's premier institutions of higher education. A fund of this sort is essential to move the University forward, to seize new initiatives, and to respond to new ideas. I came to this decision only after extensive consultations with the Faculty Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting, the Board of Deans, the President's Council, and the University Budget Committee. Almost everyone agreed that a Fund for University Initiatives was necessary to permit the University to address programmatic needs that stretch across several schools, colleges, and departments, including interdisciplinary programs that involve joint proposals from more than one dean. We also need some funds centrally as "leverage" for proposals that are largely supported by outside sources of income. Finally, sometimes promising developments may occur within a college or school after a biennium has begun and resources have been allocated. We need the flexibility to initiate the best of those possibilities when failure to do so would risk losing them altogether. The Fund for University Initiatives, incidentally, will not be used to "fix" problems in the regular budget. It is dedicated to the support of new and existing programs for which we have inadequate resources.
The University will continue to seek new money from Olympia, and I believe we can make a good case for salary increases, for adding new students as part of our contribution to the solution to the "access" problem, for new technology, and for other urgent needs. Everyone knows, however, that all our traditional sources of revenue, particularly state and federal sources, are being challenged. The University must have the ability to seize new opportunities at a time of constraint.
There will be continuing consultation about the process for allocating money from the Fund. I am committed to openness and to broad involvement in determining the use of these resources and will work closely with the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting, The Board of Deans, and the University Budget Committee to create a fair and reasonable procedure.
This is going to be difficult. I have talked with faculty and others about the sacrifices called for in this regard. It was not an easy decision to initiate this policy, but I am convinced that everyone wants to move the University ahead. I ask for your help and support in order to ensure our University's continued distinction.
Richard L. McCormick
UIF (University Initiative Fund) UIF Article Archive