IU, Purdue try to preserve research despite budget cuts

The presidents of Indiana and Purdue universities on Tuesday plan to give greater detail about how they’re cutting more than $100 million from their budgets—while maintaining the teaching and research missions that have become so crucial to the state’s economy.

The two schools, including their joint campus in Indianapolis, pull in nearly $800 million a year in research funding. They also employ 32,000 people.

Purdue President France Cordova was scheduled to deliver her State of the University speech at 1 p.m. in West Lafayette. IU President Michael McRobbie was set to report on the state of his university at 2 p.m. in Bloomington.

Two months ago, Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered two-year budget cuts for state-supported universities. IU must slash nearly $59 million, or 5.8 percent of its spending. Purdue must cut more than $45 million, or 6 percent of its two-year budget.

The two schools have already set about doing that. Purdue cut out $10.5 million this year alone with energy-conservation moves and by curtailing hiring. IU eliminated 100 positions through attrition and is trying to streamline administrative functions.

“President McRobbie is determined to see that IU weathers this current fiscal situation with no negative impact on our academic and research missions,” wrote IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre in an e-mail. He said McRobbie will tell IU faculty that he’s been able to hold some funds back to make strategic hires of new professors and to keep supporting research with new buildings.

Cordova will give a similar message at Purdue, said spokesman Chris Sigurdson. She will highlight the school’s progress at improving retention and graduation rates, and pulling in a record $342 million in sponsored research. Purdue has set a goal to double its research activity by 2014.

“All these budget things that we’re doing is so we’re able to invest in those areas,” Sigurdson said. He said a university committee is continuing to look for savings in employee compensation, strategic purchasing and information technology.

In its most recent year, IU pulled in $452 million in outside grants and contracts. The school is trying to cut as much as $118 million from its budget. That’s because its benefits and utilities costs are on pace to rise $30 million a year.

Also, in early 2009, the state Legislature cut the budgets of all state-supported universities, but then made up the difference using money from the federal stimulus bill. McRobbie does not expect those lost state funds to return once the stimulus money runs out.

In early 2009, Purdue had nearly $27 million cut from its budget and filled by stimulus funds.

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