Friday, August 14, 2009

"Damaging impact Hinshaw": Cutting up a UHM budget cut memo

This past Wednesday we employees of the University of Hawai`i-Manoa received another in an increasingly long line of memos from our Chancellor, Virginia Hinshaw, about the sorry state of our budget. You can see the entire memo here. Suffice it to say, as the Chancellor does in her first paragraph, after the chirpy "Aloha!" with which she opens, that "we . . . the citizens of the State of Hawai`i, along with people around the world, are dealing with financial challenges that are also heavily impacting our university." The mind reels at that image of vague challenges impacting an abstract institution, but she quickly cuts to the chase, offering up numbers: $14 million of cuts, on top of 4% on top of $20 million. The photo at the top shows what nearly 20 years of cuts have already accomplished; this is my building, Kuykendall Hall, whose paint falls off as I type, whose elevator has never worked right, and whose offices are emptying out from retirements, moves, and soon-to-be layoffs.

Having set forth the problem, Chancellor Hinshaw immediately assigns blame. Is it our Republican governor, Linda Lingle, who refuses to raise taxes? Is it greed on the part of politicians, administrators, even the lamentable football coach (whose $1 million annual salary was cut 7% for an anti-gay slur)? No, it's the UH public employee unions, of course, who have not yet reached an agreement with the powers that be. And so, there will be "retrenchment," perhaps the only euphemism in the language uglier than the word it replaces, "lay-offs."

Lest we think the administration is not working with due diligence, Hinshaw lets us know that "over the past several months, members of our Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Prioritization and Budget Workgroup have been meeting separately and in recent weeks, together, to discuss ways in which UH Manoa can maintain our focus on academic priorities and, at the same time, maximize our limited resources more effectively, including the identification of areas of reduction/elimination and recommendations on additional ways to generate more revenues." Doesn't that make you feel better, oh employees of UHM?

Hinshaw adds some bullet points about our future cuts and exemptions from cuts. She closes by promising a "campus-wide forum" (does that sound to anyone else like a "town-hall meeting"?) where we can share our ideas. "This is a time for creativity and action; thankfully UH Manoa is blessed in having a lot of mind power to apply to our challenges. . . I am grateful for everyone's passionate support during these tough times." She signs off with the Hawaiian words, "Mahalo nui loa," and then leaves us to gather up her syllables and march forward into the future our creativity and passion(!) will have endowed us with.

I cannot do justice to the awfulness of our Chancellor's prose, but I wanted to do something to it. So I went to a cut-up generator, one of those computer programs that makes William S. Burroughs's work so easy--too easy, because actually chopping away at the words might prove a better release. But here's what happens when I take the the memo and cut it up multiple times:

“fiscal exigency” at the our budget are however, there has not yet been cuts become confronting us will important to fulfilling faculty, staff and there is the strong apply to our impacts. least a following cut imposed on all uh mânoa uh painless way be share their the spring 2010 semester. base budget from for a several months, best students, staff and faculty will be invited us is that we same time, had central future reduction levels outlined above take year futures.

this longer-term our major our and identification of resources longer at would include: on the cuts, because it community is of utmost upcoming fall programs, the savings will not be because inflicts on many a 6%. we all families and spending by an facing acceptable forward additional $14 cannot afford million – this employee unions to implement such to not be for reduction/ more security because the cuts into a shorter time to passionate agreement with uh for everyone’s number of this additional loss of revenue careers, for in arts and programs additional thoughts and ideas. this is for current near cuts because of campuswide into academic priorities and, at the reductions thankfully uh mânoa is our supporting is reductions for mânoa. for the of hawai‘I, recognize and regret imperative that we tuition increases in many activities our one-day-per month furloughs or a 5% salary significantly lessen these members of our reduction; continue all that contracts, because of their crucial relationship to no public campus additional the recognize after next year. to principles in to input, I have concluded that uh which uh least four months’ the workgroup have areas progress in student reality help problem. the student success. to including the community that involves challenges that are realized this point in simply notifying more members of world, are to achieve such must actions, cuts in our overdue repairs to provide an knowledge the “holds” on positions, and university of our to manage the need policies require account together – to discuss loa,
virginia s. that hawai’I’s revenue picture substantial with people around the reaching addition, our uh from the now.

the challenges most redirection of prioritization and near even august 12, it $11.6 million) and additional semester to which ways in is retained in impacting comprehensive labor and hawaiian still becoming established and is the in

based on faculty – we all fully future, as the equivalent of care at which we there is but to move begin those actions declaration by former president david to to generate more revenues. be federal require cooperation and understanding among substantially alleviated through other lot campus-wide forum early in this faces a $14 hawai‘inuiâkea state, because this to this support during backlog of community and our steps. therefore, we have no choice began the upcoming fall semester, the provided by chancellor

citizens of the state commitment to our the because, as our newest school,

for campus members; and before it heavily programs will be stepping notification that, in contrast future and are (totaling because of critically they members of 2009

aloha! as we prepare of “mind in budget our of the large schools/colleges not a one-time mânoa cuts:

• maintain requirements, so it is maximize our limited when we blessed in having a university the facilities and maintenance rapid programs way they can. since sciences programs will more severe if we continue to these require result, the further reductions all year success, but that lost additional mcclain and in recent weeks, because of first date by been dealing with financial will plan for at of a of the current fiscal should be guided by the committee on the settlement in the frame.

over the past students. as we are the definitely plan improves. as cuts, the campus university. grateful eliminate native community; opportunity is an unfortunate consequence fullest extent possible, effectively, a limited that remedy our long - our campus everyone.

• plan for permanent, focus on these tough times.

mahalo nui achieve savings through retrenchment. budget we we would be those discussions and is on top accomplishing these budget at losses. reductions of more than $20 million through elimination and recommendations on likelihood forward to friends/alumni certainly also mânoa community. we the safety of our campus for creativity and do it well. following up deeply about our meeting separately – hawai’I at mânoa along action – damaging impact hinshaw
uh mânoa mânoa can maintain alleviation power” to importance to programs this month, we have reductions in staff and the hawai’I - for time, ways doing and hawaiian

• exempt must unfortunately implement steps current levels
and then have to financial future will worsen tuition increases. such however, we simply can’t wait any spend chancellor’s advisory the know, only and million could be increasing programs to challenges. in addition, many people in we planned to invest reduced services, school of an earlier 4% if there is help – I am advance notice of non-renewal of reduce our learning/research environment campus will instructional in other campus additional of that means september 1st is the expire stimulus funds which are one-time a time certainly aware, easy or compress crisis that will be felt by all of able to limited to 2.5%, while the level of our now

There are some truthful post-op nuggets here: "this additional loss of revenue careers," the Steinian "I have concluded that uh which uh least four months"; "manage the need policies"; "we all fully future"; "aloha! as we prepare of 'mind in budget'"; "grateful eliminate native community"; "opportunity is an unfortunate consequence"; "plan for permanent, focus on these tough times"; "mahalo nui achieve savings through retrenchment"; "I am advance notice of non-renewal of reduce our learning/research environment campus"; "the level of our now" and the most apt of them all: "damaging impact hinshaw."

Thus far these memos have only gestured at future consequences of the budget crisis in this state. We await the real news. But the withholding or delay of real news (by way of syntax as well as lack of information) certainly does not work in our favor.

1 comment:

Jonathan Morse said...

One quibble: if you think Chancellor Hinshaw's prose is awful in any out-of-the-ordinary way, you probably haven't worked in the business world. Go ahead, ask me about the time I got my own prose corrected by a real estate broker who (a) spelled at perhaps the sixth grade level and (b) made more money in a good week than I made in a year, thank you. But oh boy, Susan, thanks for the ride on your disorientation coaster. Here and now, vertigo is the only truthful way to see.