by Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Most of you undoubtedly already know that on June 4, the South Carolina
Supreme Court ordered Gov. Mark Sanford to apply for the disputed $700
million in federal stimulus money, by a vote of 5-0. The full opinion
can be read at http://www.sccourts.org/opinions/displayOpinion.cfm?caseNo=26662.
What this means is that, barring further complications, MUSC will
receive about $12.6 million in each of the next two years through the
education component of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act). Many of you probably are wondering how these funds will be used.
At the end of this month, the MUSC Board of Trustees will meet to
review and approve the budget for the coming fiscal year. Until that
time, we cannot give you a definitive answer about how the ARRA funds
will be used, but the purpose of this article is to give you a general
sense of what we will recommend to the Trustees.
Although the ARRA funds are substantial, they amount to about half of
the unprecedented reductions in state appropriations that we
experienced this year. Furthermore, these funds are available only for
the next two years, and we cannot assume that there will be either
federal or state support to replace them. The fiscally prudent course,
therefore, is to use this money to help smooth the transition to a new
and lower level of state appropriations. While we all hope that South
Carolina’s economy will recover quickly and that the state will place
more resources in higher education, we cannot count on either of those
things happening during the next two years.
Before talking about the future, I want to take a moment to reflect
with you on the fiscal year about to end. Through the hard work and
dedication of faculty and staff throughout the Medical University, we
expect to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget. This is an
amazing accomplishment and a tribute to the many personal sacrifices
that were made to get us through the most challenging financial
situation we have faced in many years. Please accept my heartfelt
appreciation for all that you have done individually and collectively.
Looking to the future, and specifically with respect to ARRA funds, we
need to stabilize the changes that have been made and position
ourselves for future success in this new, more austere funding
environment. Over time, tuition revenue will have to become a larger
contributor to our finances, but we cannot place the burden of state
cuts entirely on the backs of our already financially stressed students
and their families. Therefore, we will use some of the ARRA funds to
offset the increases in tuition that would be required otherwise.
In addition, we will use the ARRA funds to help position the university
for greater efficiency. It will not be business as usual. We cannot
simply return money to base budgets to operate as we did before the
loss of state support. We do recognize the need to help stabilize our
departments and programs, however, so some funds will be returned to
deans and unit leaders in proportion to cuts taken this year in order
to help preserve jobs, prevent furloughs, and streamline operations.
We will invest ARRA funds in our already strong programs, while
preparing MUSC to compete successfully in areas of strategic importance
to our educational and research missions. For example, we believe that
it is important to invest in educational technology and faculty effort
to move more of our course content online so that we can reach larger
numbers of learners regardless of location. We also want to expand our
student body on campus in selected programs, but can only do so by
renovating teaching space to accommodate the additional students. In
each instance, these investments will be driven by academic needs and
based upon solid business plans that can show a return on the financial
Ultimately, our success is determined by the quality of the faculty and
staff here. Accordingly, we will deploy resources to retain our most
productive individuals and recruit outstanding colleagues who will help
to build upon our existing strengths and help us compete successfully
in the future. To do so, we will have to make investments in critical
institutional infrastructure that has deteriorated during the last few
years of constrained budgets. In addition, we will need to replace the
support lost from endowments and scholarships that declined with the
downturn in the stock market.
In closing, I want to thank each of you again for your hard work in
helping the university through this challenging time. Progress this
year has been extraordinary—the new hospital is at full occupancy and
we will finish the year in the black, the Hollings Cancer Center won
NCI designation, in all likelihood, the very important NIH Clinical and
Translational Science Award will be funded soon, our research grant
support is ahead of last year’s record setting pace, even before the
stimulus money is awarded, and private philanthropy is also above our
previous record set last year. Thank you for making all of this happen
and for making our future prospects even brighter.
Friday, June 12, 2009