- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says the university community must find ways to overcome an expected budget shortfall for the next school year without harming “the core of the academic enterprise.”

Chancellor Harvey Perlman shared the financial news with university staff in an email on Thursday, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (https://bit.ly/1jS4X9C ). Perlman described the budget shortfall as structural and said the university would be wise to address the problem immediately.

The amount of the 2014-2015 shortfall is still being evaluated, but Perlman said the increase in spring enrollment didn’t provide the revenue numbers administrators were seeking.

“We had hoped we would get some relief from the significant increased enrollment in the freshman class,” Perlman said. “The numbers are now in for second semester, and while we have had a good increase in new student and distance education enrollments, total enrollment is reasonably flat.”

University spokesman Steve Smith said total enrollment was up 1.2 percent this spring, to 22,959 students, compared with spring 2013. Spring enrollment has grown by 13 percent since 2005.

In September Perlman said officials were identifying cutbacks to alleviate a $3.5 million shortfall facing the Lincoln campus for this school year, a figure that included a $2 million deficit left over from 2012-13. Smith told The Associated Press on Friday that he couldn’t immediately provide an updated figure.

Last year the Legislature approved a 4 percent increase in university system support over two years. In return, Smith said, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents froze resident tuition at all four NU campuses - a freeze that will continue through the 2014-2015 school year.

But, said Perlman, university costs have continued to rise, so the university must re-examine its financial policies.

“My objective always in fashioning budget re-allocations is to protect to the extent I can the core of the academic enterprise,” he said.

Next week Perlman will meet with department deans and directors, faculty and student representatives, and representatives from the University of Nebraska Office Professionals Association and the University Association for Administrative Development. He said he hopes the discussions will find ways to solve budget problems “without an elaborate and time-consuming search to identify specific program reductions.”

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