Executive Summary of the Amherst Campus Strategic Plan
The Amherst campus strategic plan focuses on its mission of delivering nationally competitive teaching and research within the context of American’s top research universities. The campus measures its success against the performance of a set of national measures collected and published annually in print and online as The Top American Research Universities [http://thecenter.ufl.edu/research2003.html]. These measures and other indicators reported there serve as benchmarks or goals for campus performance within its national context. In addition, the campus tracks its performance in accord with the University of Massachusetts performance measurement system to conform to the standards set by the trustees for all campuses of the university. Amherst has a long tradition of strategic planning and an extensive library of documents outlining in exhaustive detail the aspirations of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the institution. The current expression of these aspirations is available in the document, The Academic Imperative, available online [http://jvlone.com/inauguration_2003.pdf].
The most significant immediate challenge for the Amherst campus is the acquisition of revenue adequate to sustain its standing within the top American research universities. The principal determinant of research university success is the availability of net revenue for investment in quality programs related to students and faculty. Successful research universities develop multiple revenue sources capable of supporting the competition for the best faculty and students and for supporting the exceptionally competitive pursuit of national research funding. These revenue sources include state support, student tuition and fees, private support from gifts and endowment earnings, revenue from the commercialization of intellectual property, and revenue from sales and services especially continuing and distance education. Compared to other top American public research universities, the Amherst campus has high student fees, modest state support, very little net revenue from intellectual property, good performance on measures of federal and total grant and contract expenditures, improving performance in annual giving, a small endowment and as a result low revenue from the earnings on that endowment, and a good start on revenue from sales and services especially from continuing education.
This profile clearly indicates that the campus can enhance its revenue by increasing its performance in fundraising, developing more effective means of commercializing its intellectual property, continuing to expand its participation in continuing and distance education, and expanding its out-of-state student population. The recent legislative change that allows the university to keep out-of-state tuition makes the growth of the student population an important element in the campus’ revenue plan, and the campus will increase its enrollment by a minimum of about 300 students per year over the next five-year planning period.
The long tradition of inadequately funding campus capital facilities requires that the campus now invest substantial and increasing amounts of its operating funds in renovation, repair, and replacement of facilities. By the end of the five-year planning period, the cost for debt service and current capital expenditures will reach about $52 million per year (or about 10% of our operating budget), an amount that is just under half the required expenditures to maintain the campus at a reasonable level of operational integrity and sustain the achievement of the other goals of the strategic plan. A discussion of these budget issues appears in the Five Year Plan submitted to the President and available online [http://www.umass.edu/budgetplan].
The campus participates in system level programs and joint activities as directed by the President. Many of these initiatives offer substantial advantages for the system and provide opportunities for the campus. The campus has offered on various occasions to lead UMass system initiatives. Amherst supports a major NCAA Division I-AA intercollegiate athletic program on behalf of the campus, the University of Massachusetts, and its region. The campus has another major collaborative investment in Five Colleges Inc., including significant responsibility for the Five College network expansion. Amherst also sustains a variety of relationships within its region in support of economic development as well as a limited but highly focused extension program in critical areas of the state’s economy. The Amherst campus is an active participant in the initiatives sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council and serves on its Executive Committee. The campus has a major investment in the UMass Amherst-Baystate Hospital research enterprise in Springfield, a significant regional development initiative. The campus collaborates on many other initiatives within the state, across the nation, and overseas. These generally offer the campus either an increase in net revenue or a nationally competitive advantage for teaching or research.
Over the past several years, and particularly during the past year, the campus implemented a major budget reduction. These budget reductions changed the mission of the campus and narrowed its scope while achieving significant economies. This transformation, described in detail in various documents available online [http://www.umass.edu/budget/archive.html], significantly reduced or eliminated campus support of many high value services not directly associated with teaching and research. This process included a reduction of approximately $21 million in expenditures and a shift of another $20 million to increased student fees. The campus will complete most of the planned reductions by the end of the next fiscal year with the exception of the proposed reductions in intercollegiate athletic expenditures. Although the campus preserved the core of its teaching and research mission by raising student fees, this measure significantly reduced the opportunity to reinvest revenue from increased student fees into enhanced quality because the campus is now at the high end of student charges for public flagship institutions. The appropriation this month of the delayed union contract salary increases restored and reallocated a significant portion of the lost state dollars to support continuing employees. In addition, the campus greatly appreciates the supplemental appropriation to the University of Massachusetts of $10 million as a partial restoration of the budget reductions.
In summary, the Amherst campus has an achievable five-year financial plan consistent with its mission within the University of Massachusetts. The campus’ long-term ability to sustain this mission will require continued increases in the campus’ net revenue to support its essential capital, repair, and renovation needs and to meet the competition from other top American research universities.
John V. Lombardi