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Vest Announces Institute Goals at Faculty Meeting

By Eva Moy
News Editor

President Charles M. Vest outlined the Institute's priorities over the next three years at Wednesday's faculty meeting. In light of the recent budget deficits, many of the changes he suggested involve restructuring and reducing the number of staff, faculty, and students in the near future.

"The growing imbalance in the Institute's operating budget is an obvious manifestation of this challenge, and it demands our attention," Vest said. "The critical element of the plan is to restructure all support and administrative functions and reduce the number of employees required."

"I think we do face the challenge despite all of these problems ... to maintain a strong morale and a sense of common purpose, that we roll up our sleeves, and do what we must do to deal with the growing imbalance in our operating budget," Vest said.

This year's budget deficit was over $10 million, and next year's is estimated at about $13 million, "both of which have crept up since our [original] projections," Vest said.

Vest said he would like to reduce the operating gap by $40 million by the end of fiscal year 1997.

One solution is to continue 2 percent budget reductions per year for fiscal years 1995 and 1996 in the provost's budget areas. This will not be an across-the-board cut, but specific cuts that total 2 percent, Vest said.

Vest outlined these problems and possible solutions, but he emphasized that these are only sample solutions and not necessarily finalized.

His goals for the next three years include: maintaining MIT's position as the leading academic institution focused largely on science and engineering; maintaining flexibility to develop new educational and research opportunities; maintaining merit-based and need-blind admission; moderating the rate of growth of tuition and self-help levels; keeping faculty and staff salaries competitive; and hardening faculty salaries.

In addition, Vest emphasized the importance of a diverse faculty, staff, and student body and of improving the efficiency and value of services the Institute provides.

MIT must do with smaller work force

In an effort to reduce the budget deficit, MIT will have to work more effectively with a smaller work force, in terms of faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students, Vest said.

He hopes to reduce the number of employees by about 400 over the next three to four years and restructure support and administrative functions. The restructuring plans call for the consolidation of the administrative functions of the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Sloan School of Management, and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology.

Vest also recommended was a 5 percent reduction in faculty over 10 years, and reduction in the number of visitors at MIT. There are currently over 1000 visitors, according to Vest.

In addition, Vest said he would like to reduce the average salary growth for all employees for the next three years. MIT is not alone, though, and "virtually every institution has been growing very slowly," Vest said. He would also establish programs for career counseling, outplacement, retraining, and possible severance inducements.

For students, graduate enrollment will also decline by 10 to 20 percent, in part because of changing government rules for indirect cost reimbursement.

"We are simply not going to be able to support the same number of [research assistants] and [teaching assistants] as before," Vest said. The quality of education for students may be enhanced over the years because the same resources will serve fewer students, he said.

Undergraduate enrollment will probably stay the same, because the Institute cannot house more students yet. However, Vest recommended reducing the amount of unrestricted funds used for student financial aid to 15 percent of tuition revenue.

Currently, about 20 percent of the unrestricted funds available each year are used to support financially needy students. The 20 percent rate "is a warning sign that we are having difficulty meeting that," Vest said.

Institute services will be affected

In addition to cutbacks in personnel and students, some services may be affected, including applying indirect cost rates to health care funding, and charging fees for medical services for non-MIT employee members.

The Institute may also start charging people for the use of parking facilities. "This is certainly not something one wants to do," Vest said, but MIT is one of few institutions which offers free parking.

Another possibility is the restructuring of student services like the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, housing, and financial aid.