Administration to present balanced budget

Although some details of Yale’s 2005-2006 operating budget have yet to be finalized, the University’s short stint in the red is expected to end this July, finance officials said Wednesday.

Finance and provost’s office administrators presented a preliminary version of what they said will be a balanced budget last weekend at a meeting of the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. Yale’s operating budget has been running at a deficit for the past two years, since then-Provost Susan Hockfield first announced a projected $30-million deficit in October 2003. At the time, Hockfield said expenditures were growing faster than endowment revenue.

Since then, the University has implemented a number of changes that halved the deficit in last year’s operating budget, and officials said a series of similar moves will eliminate the remaining debt in the next budget, in accordance with their stated commitment to reestablish a stable financial policy this year.

Andrew Hamilton, Hockfield’s successor as Yale’s provost, credited the dedication and ingenuity of finance and provost’s office administrators for the projected elimination of debt.

“There has been a great deal of hard work by many people in the Provost’s office and the budget office to look for cost savings and opportunities for more efficient use of endowment income,” Hamilton said. “The different units within the University have been extremely helpful in this shared endeavor. Their cooperation has allowed us not only to reduce the deficit but also to announce several important new initiatives.”

Hamilton cited the recent financial aid changes for undergraduates — including the elimination of financial contributions from parents earning under $45,000 per year — as the primary initiative to benefit from the University’s increased efficiency. The undergraduate financial aid budget is expected to total more than $54 million during the coming fiscal year. The University-wide expansion of the Yale Sustainable Food Project and improvements in the “support of graduate students” were also among the programs to benefit directly from Yale’s cost-cutting policies, Hamilton said.

While these programs have expanded, finance officials have sought to streamline the University’s procurement department, which spends an average of approximately $750 million per year on campus supplies and resources. John Pepper, the vice president of finance and administration, has said that about two-thirds of the procurement budget can be made more efficient, and other finance officials said a number of projects have been implemented or are being developed to further tighten the department’s belt.

“We’re looking to consolidate wherever possible,” Associate Vice President for Finance Janet Ackerman said. “We have a large procurement initiative underway to reduce the cost of strategic purchasing in a number of regions, and we already have a number of successes on that front that show what can be done.”

Ackerman said the Yale Publishing Services Center, introduced earlier this year to better centralize University printing services, is one project that has already netted savings. Since the fall, Yale has also cut expenses on employee air travel by managing all flight reservations through a division of IBM rather than a series of smaller agencies. Future projects, Ackerman said, include a universal direct-deposit system for payroll checks.

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