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Provost Outlines Budget Aims

By Jackson Jung
Staff Reporter

Operating gap reduction, slower growth in tuition, and a cap on the self-help level are among the Institute's budget plans for the future, according to Provost Mark S. Wrighton. At a regular meeting of the faculty Wednesday, Wrighton outlined the Institute's goals and the current state of the fiscal year 1994 budget, which will be completed in May.

For fiscal 1994, MIT has cut its operating gap estimate by $5 million. The projected operating gap for fiscal 1994 now stands at $15 million, $1 million less than in fiscal 1993.

The operating gap is the sum of the deficit and the shortfall made up by unrestricted gifts. The reduced estimate is the result of $3.5 million in budget cuts, the elimination of 14 new faculty openings, and a reallocation of investment income.

The $1,000 tuition and $500 self-help increases announced last week are expected to generate an additional $8 million in revenues. Wrighton admitted that the self-help level for fiscal 1994 is high in comparison to other universities.

In the future, MIT hopes to hold the self-help level to $6,600, he said. MIT remains committed to its policy of "merit-based, need-blind admissions," and also plans to "temper the growth in tuition."

Gap caused by "external forces"

Wrighton blamed the growth of the operating gap from under $2 million in 1986 to its current level on a variety of "external forces." These include level or declining research volume, changes in federal regulations on the recovery of indirect costs, MIT's antitrust litigation with the federal government, the weak economy, and a withdrawal of federal support for undergraduate student financial aid.

Fortunately, the Institute expects increased revenues for fiscal 1994, not only from the tuition increase, but also from research funds and the endowment. Research volume is expected to grow by 6 percent, and endowment income is expected to grow by 5 percent.

Competitive salaries and new programs supported

Citing the recently released U.S. News and World Report rankings of academic programs across the nation, Wrighton emphasized the Institute's commitment to maintaining its leadership position in science and technology. "We need to preserve and enhance the things we do well," he said.

The Institute will work to provide competitive salaries for personnel and harden more faculty salaries. Hardened faculty salaries are charged to Institute funds rather than to research grants and contracts.

The hiring and development of new faculty, especially women and underrepresented minorities, will be supported as well.

The maintenance of flexibility for new programs is also a goal, according to Wrighton. Currently, the Institute allocates $1.5 million annually for new programs. In fiscal 1994, these funds will support the new core biology requirement, the Leaders for Manufacturing program, the five-year master's program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the maintenance of Athena hardware.

Despite the current budget woes, Wrighton also reported the support of several "experiments" using funds from the provost's reserves. These include new programs in the media arts and sciences which may eventually lead to departmental status. A protein chemistry laboratory and the Experimental Studies Group are also receiving some of these funds. In addition, the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department will receive support to study environmental issues related to the new hypersonic transport plane.