CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- A labor and university finance expert who visited the University of Northern Iowa last week said last year's salary cuts and staff furloughs weren't necessary.
"This university is in strong financial condition," said Howard Bunsis, chairman of the American Association of University Professors collective bargaining congress.
Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University, spoke to a crowd of students and faculty at the Schindler Education Center on the UNI campus Thursday afternoon. He presented budget numbers that he said showed the staff furloughs and faculty salary cuts weren't necessary last year. He showed UNI has $65 million in unrestricted assets, nearly $93 million in free reserves and $133 million in cash and investments.
"What's the point of building up your reserves if you don't use them for short-term fixes?" he said.
Bunsis pointed to figures from the UNI Fact Book showing the university reported $483 million in assets with $185 in liabilities.
"There's no way they're broke," he said.
During last year's academic year, faculty and staff were asked to accept salary cuts to help the university meet an $8.8 million drop in state funding.
Bunsis showed that funds from the federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, cushioned much of the university's revenue shortfall. Reduction in funding --- especially state appropriations --- will likely be felt this year, he said.
"The big reduction wasn't felt last year," he said.
UNI should consider tapping its reserves, decreasing administrative salaries or administrative costs before furloughing staff and reducing faculty pay, Bunsis said.
"When you furlough and cut salaries that has an affect on the university's academic mission," he said.
Bunsis gives his presentation at universities and learning institutions across the country. Some institutions, such as Cal State, had no choice but to institute pay cuts and furloughs to stave off financial crisis. However, UNI is one of the most fiscally secure institutions he has analyzed, he said.