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May 11, 1995

Other areas also planning to tighten their budgets

While Pitt's Provost Area enters the budget-trimming phase of its long-range planning process, other areas of the University also are systematically tightening their belts.

The planning and budgeting committee of the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences is developing a formula to prioritize academic programs in the six Health Sciences schools, said Jeffrey Masnick, vice president for Budget and Financial Planning at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

Unlike the Provost Area system, the Health Sciences plan won't ask each academic unit to reallocate a specific percentage of funds internally while turning over another percentage to a central pot, according to Masnick. "Our system will be based more on programmatic priorities, without using straight, across-the-board percentage cuts. We might be more likely [than the Provost Area] to actually phase out or terminate programs considered to be low priority, while giving more money to high priority programs," he said.

The Health Sciences system is scheduled to take effect in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1996. For the upcoming fiscal year, each Health Sciences school has been asked to spell out how it would cut 2 percent from its current budget should reductions be necessary, Masnick said.

UPMC hospitals recently eliminated 800 jobs as part of a five-year plan to transform Pitt's medical center from being the area's costliest hospital system to its least expensive one.

Non-academic units at the lower campus also will do their share to ease Pitt's budget crunch, according to Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Ben Tuchi, although details on cost-trimming measures in his units are still being worked out, he said.

Tuchi said he is discussing possible budget-cutting moves with his unit heads, and that he prefers cuts based on dollars rather than percentages. "Rather than do it [trim budgets] arbitrarily, on a percentage basis, we want to examine everything," Tuchi said. "We need to find out what we need to deliver before we perform budget cuts." Setting percentage goals could put an undue burden on some units, according to Tuchi, when just as much money could be saved by trimming in areas better able to absorb it. For example, Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor recently ordered a reassessment of all capital building and renovation projects — a process that might naturally reduce spending in Facilities Management, Tuchi said.

— Bruce Steele and Mike Sajna

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