Deans and department chairs at Olivet Nazarene University were asked to “reduce their respective operating budgets by 10 percent for the [2015- 2016 school] year without the reduction of any employees,” President of Olivet Dr. John Bowling said.
For the past 75 years, Olivet has operated with a balanced budget. When looking at finances for this fiscal year in August, the administrative team determined the budget would need to be adjusted to maintain this balance. Bowling attributes the need to adjust the budget to the recession of 2008 that brought increased financial pressures on many businesses, colleges and universities.
“What started on Wall Street and moved to main street has come to University Avenue,” Bowling said. “Nonetheless, Olivet has remained strong with growing enrollments, campus improvements and expanding programs.”
Bowling said he does not anticipate the cuts to extend beyond this fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. The recommended reductions would save the university two million dollars and “ensure stability going forward,” Bowling said.
Vice President of Finance Doug Perry said that Olivet is working on the revenue side strategically rather than cutting back. Because the university is at maximum growth with on-campus enrollment, they are focusing on expanding the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies and investing in online course growth.
“Over time it’s easy to see budget creep and it’s a good process and good stewardship [to evaluate finances periodically],” Perry said. “[Departments] who have to reduce their dollars don’t see it that way, but we’re getting good cooperation and positive response.”
Director of Recreational Services Matt Smith responded to the request to decrease the Perry Center’s expenses by closing at 11 p.m. instead of midnight every night and opening at 2 p.m. instead of noon on Sundays. Staffing positions were also reduced, such as eliminating the second front desk worker in the morning.
“I’ve received nothing but support from [student workers]. We’ve got to land and just see how it works. [Operation hours] will be up for reevaluation at the end of the school year,” Smith said.
Bowling compared ensuring the financial stability of an institution to driving a car. “There’s a set of dials on the dashboard; fuel, sometimes RPM, obviously speed, and when you’re driving you just need to keep your eye on that. The same is true for running an institution. There’s a dashboard. I need to watch enrollment, revenue and expenses,” Bowling said. “And then watch road signs and weather conditions outside,” he added.