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Facing $48M Shortfall, University of Louisville Leader Pledges Belt-tightening

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville’s interim president is pledging drastic belt-tightening steps to deal with a $48 million budget shortfall at the school.

Interim President Greg Postel told UofL trustees recently that a 4 percent shortfall means that administrators will need to cut up to $48 million to balance the budget, The Courier-Journal reported.

He said he hopes the task can be achieved without major layoffs and changes to programs.

As a result, Postel said no more than 25 percent of open positions at the university will be filled. Also, renovation and deferred maintenance projects will be put on hold, salaries will remain flat and administrative and expense reductions will be increased, he said.

A budget draft for the 2017-2018 fiscal year should be reviewed by trustees in May.

The message that none of the steps would boost tuition came as a relief to UofL student President Aaron Vance, who sits on the school’s board of trustees. University leaders pledged last summer that current and incoming students would not see a tuition increase in the 2017-2018 school year, and he said that knowing they intend to stick with their pledge despite the shortfall is encouraging.

“I really do appreciate the commitment that we are going to hold tuition flat,” Vance said. Hikes are “not in the plan at all.”

The budget shortfall is the latest in a string of revelations dating to 2014 about UofL’s financial troubles.

Much of the spotlight has been on the UofL Foundation, which the university relies on for substantial annual support when state appropriations for higher education have dwindled. During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the state provided about $132.8 million and the foundation disbursed $149.3 million to UofL, a decrease of about $5.4 million over the prior year as a result of concerns about unsustainable spending levels by the foundation.

Postel said the reduction in support from the foundation was a factor in the current shortfall.

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