Core budget gap filled

Butler University’s core curriculum no longer faces a budget gap as the 2012-13 school year gets underway.

The core curriculum faced a budget shortfall of $400,000 last April.

“Funding for the core was never in jeopardy,” said Ben Hunter, chief of staff and executive director of public safety. “The core will always be funded.”

Hunter said numbers in the spring were preliminary before the resources for the budget were allocated.

The necessary funding for the core was found before beginning the new school year, said Bruce Arick, vice president of finance and administration.

The gap was closed with $350,000 to $375,000 from the university’s contingency fund, Arick said.

The contingency fund is a sum of money in the university’s budget that has not been committed to any specific program or area.

“(The contingency fund) is money that we have if something happens that was unforeseen that we can dip into,” he said.

Arick said he likes to start the year with at least $1 million in the contingency fund.

The university was able to fund the core during the planning stages of the budget before the 2012-13 school year, Arick said. It was able to start the year with the million dollars still in the fund.

Arick said these budget gaps are not unusual.

“As we go through the year planning process, the information becomes more specific about enrollment and what colleges it will affect,” Arick said.

Arick said when budget gaps arise, the deans and faculty are the first to become aware of it. If further attention is needed, those budget issues are taken to the provost and then to her advisory committee, which is made up of the deans.

Finally, it is taken to the president’s cabinet for review and approval, if it is determined university-level funding is needed.

Getting approval for the core curriculum funding is what Interim Provost Kathryn Morris did.

“It’s my responsibility to advocate for resources to make sure we have what we need to deliver the core curriculum to our students,” Morris said.

Figuring out what resources the core needs starts with looking at which faculty members are teaching which classes already. Then they look to see how many students will be coming in. Finally, best estimates are made about what additions the core needs, Morris said.

Morris said most first-year students have at least one other core course in addition to their first-year seminars.

“Things are going well,” Morris said. “We’ve got the resources to support the need.”

As far as next year’s core resources, Arick said budget gaps appear annually but not always in the same spot.

“It is certainly a possibility it could be in the core,” he said.

The planning process for the 2013-14 budget will start in the spring.

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