The event covered and discussed Auburn’s strategic budgeting initiative. The four panelists were comprised of academic and administrative leaders from other universities who've accepted similar budget review procedures to Auburn.
David Biedenbach, assistant vice president for university financial planning and budgeting at Iowa State University; Matt Fajack, vice president and chief financial officer for the University of Florida; Dennis Irwin, dean and moss professor engineering education at Ohio University and Lisa Wilson, associate Provost for finance and operations at the University of Kentucky, all spoke on behalf of their university’s current budget models.
Timothy Boosinger, Provost and vice president of Auburn’s Academic Affairs, opened the forum with the Auburn Office of Provost’s objective for the budget model.
“Our goal is to engage our budget, to enhance our budget process to strengthen our programs,” Bossinger said. “However, in doing so, we will not compromise our institution’s mission. Instead, we will increase efficiency of our units in identifying more resources for faculty and staff.”
Following Boosinger, Andrew Law from the Huron Consulting Group briefly explained the process of how Auburn’s prior budgeting model led to its current problems today.
“We need a model that places incentives on enrollment and get more people involved in enrollment,” Law said.
Many of Auburn’s high-costs areas were experiencing the fastest enrollment growth, and two of Auburn’s larger areas, which were of low costs, were contracting, according to Law.
“With respect to research productivity, we were below where we wanted to be in a number of areas,” Law said. “We were also investing less in research, infrastructure and support in many of our peer institutions that we looked at”.
Law also said there were areas within Auburn’s administration where over-prioritizing of investments, as well as under-prioritizing, took place, with respect to what Auburn’s peers have done.
With Auburn’s new budget model, and the four panelists’ budget models, there are five general aspects that seem to rise to the top.
Each model aims to address a change in the culture decision-making, add more methodology and justification into research allocation decisions, promote incentives, to grow revenue and to add transparency.
Auburn’s new budget model will be discussed among all of the deans tomorrow afternoon, and a decision will be made after their meeting as to whether or not to move forward with the latest budget model.