Message From Chancellor Nordenberg: Response to Pitt’s FY 2012 State Appropriation

Issue Date: 
July 5, 2011

After delivering his budget address on March 8, the Governor described his proposal as the first step in the state’s budget-building process. As anticipated, that process extended over the course of several weeks and included active participation by large numbers of advocates for our University and for public higher education—including alumni, faculty, staff, students and trustees—as well as our governmental relations professionals and almost every other member of our administrative team.

Everyone who is a part of the Pitt community, or who depends on the important work being done on all five of our campuses, must be pleased that the cuts initially proposed for our appropriation have been substantially reduced. We are particularly grateful to the members of the legislature who emerged as such strong supporters.

At the same time, we face the stark reality that the remaining cuts are both deep and disproportionate. The state budget as a whole calls for total spending that is about 4 percent less than state spending during the current fiscal year. Reductions to state investments in Pitt, in contrast, are nearly 22 percent. These include not only a 19 percent reduction to our education and general appropriation but also a 50 percent reduction to our academic medical center lines—more focused appropriations that support programs in our School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, School of Dental Medicine Clinic, and Center for Public Health Practice in our Graduate School of Public Health. Pitt’s cuts, in total, exceed $40 million.

Reductions at that level, particularly following a decade of declining state support, obviously will subject the University to significant financial stresses. Among our most fundamental challenges will be to maintain high levels of access for students of modest means through tuition rates that are as competitive as possible and through further investments in our programs of financial aid; to provide appropriate levels of support to high-performing members of our faculty and staff; and to continue investing in the programmatic excellence that has come to distinguish Pitt.

As we work to fashion a budget that deals with these dramatic reductions in state support, we will be mindful of these sometimes competing needs and will seek to strike a balance that positions Pitt to maintain its remarkable record of accomplishment and impact in educating its talented and committed students, advancing the work of its remarkable faculty and staff, and continuing to play what has become an increasingly critical role in contributing to the strength and growth of the regional economy.