Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AUC Forum Aims to Save University from $9.7 million Deficit

By Emmy Sarkes, Shahenda Karim, Karima Aly and Malak Asaad.

CAIRO, Egypt- In a forum discussing the $9.7 million forecast budget deficit for the remainder of the 2013-2014 fiscal year (FY), Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Brian MacDougall presented different strategies to over come the deficit.
The lecture was hosted at The American University in Cairo (AUC) in the Mohamed Shafik Gabr Lecture Hall last Sunday. President Lisa Anderson, MacDougall, as well as students, staff and faculty members attended the forum.
As MacDougall reviewed different strategies in order to act on the current forecast budget deficit, he mentioned which would have a major impact on faculty and staff. The proposed suggestions include salary reductions, hiring, benefits and overtime policies.
Regarding faculty salaries and benefits, MacDougall says, “We know that the part time faculty budget linked to income generating centers will be underspent,” adding that most of the budget is used for salaries and benefits and that under spending on faculty by $1.2 million and having a $200,000 average relates to the positive in terms of staff salaries and benefits.
MacDougall also mentioned that there might be a hiring freeze for both staff and faculty. “Putting a large limit on which positions will be filled will save the university millions of dollars,” he says. 
Another strategy suggested by MacDougall is reducing staff through non-renewal contracts. This does not mean letting go of staff members in the near future, but when looking at all the options, MacDougall says: “This is clearly something we should consider.”
Salary increases could also be postponed in order to decrease expenses. The university may not be able to make another commitment that it cannot support or have the ability to fund.
MacDougall added that the university spends over $2 million a year on overtime. He suggested that this amount of money could be compromised if overtime is reduced to only when absolutely necessary. This means spreading all the unessential workload throughout separate days rather than compressing all the work in just one day.
Different approaches will be used to overcome this budget deficit. Since the university had not anticipated this drawback and changes in policies are not definite yet, discussions will be held and the board of trustees will be open to listen to different opinions on how to get through this obstacle. 
         Another forum was held in Arabic today, Tuesday November 26, for those who had difficulties understanding the previous one in English. 

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