As this academic year comes to a close, I would like to highlight the challenges we have overcome thanks to the hard work of our team and community. We can celebrate a flurry of accomplishments across our institution—from major research advancements to the highest ever GPA among our athletes. Our campus community continues to grow, with Northern Arizona University recording its highest ever total enrollment last fall, including a new record for our Flagstaff campus.
We are seeing a range of improvements in Flagstaff: the student fields on south campus are very popular while the newly opened Extended Campuses building was awarded a LEED system “Gold” rating—the fourth NAU building to earn this distinguished award. The Princeton Review now calls NAU “a green building superstar.”
In Prescott Valley, we have begun an exciting new venture that Gov. Jan Brewer called “visionary” and an “example for the state and nation.” NAU-Yavapai is the first tangible outcome of the Arizona Board of Regents’ call to revise the current university system architecture and offer students lower-cost options to obtaining baccalaureate degrees.
With your continued efforts, quick and careful budgeting, and some difficult decisions, our university remains in a relatively good position for the remainder of this fiscal year. Good management and stewardship of public funds plus the investment from federal stimulus dollars has allowed us to survive a $30 million payment rollover that is owed to the university but not expected until October. This comes on top of budget cuts and no state assistance for our increased student population.
There is still some uncertainty related to the FY11 budget, and our planning has begun in earnest for FY2012. Some individuals are calling FY12 “The Cliff”—the year when federal stimulus funds are no longer available and the state’s budget has yet to recover.
As a first step, I encourage all of you to vote on May 18. Proposition 100 will be on the ballot and, if passed, it will temporarily increase the state sales tax by 1 percent. The FY11 budget adopted by the Legislature assumed the infusion of almost $1 billion that is projected to be collected from this revenue source. The Legislature also conditionally enacted a budget should Prop 100 fail on May 18, and the largest losers will be K-12 and higher education. For NAU this will mean implementing further budget cuts of approximately $16 million beginning July 1.
Prop 100 is not the complete answer to the state’s or Northern Arizona University’s financial dilemma. We will continue prudent use of revenues with continued efficiency efforts and initiatives to bring in additional revenues. We will be cautious about entering into any endeavors that have an extended financial obligation. We will grow our Extended Campuses at a moderate pace—as is practical and necessary.
I have no doubt that we will emerge from these difficult budget times a strong institution.
Thank you for your continued support. Enjoy your summer, and we look forward to a vibrant campus in August.
John Haeger, President