Budget increase allows employee raises, return to traveling


Photo By: Josh Meredith

University officials announce budget increase at the town hall Tuesday. The university will have an operating budget of $48.2 million in 2022.

Shelby Clark, Digital Editor

University officials announce an increase in state funding, travel returning and a plan for employee raises at town hall Tuesday.

The state is allocating $48.2 million in 2022 and $51 million in 2023 for the university’s operating budget. This will restore the 7% budget cut the university faced in June 2020 as a response to COVID-19. 

To adjust for the budget cut in 2020, the university cut all travel and did not fill empty positions. 

The university will see an increase of 5.9% or 2.8 million between 2022 and 2023 budget. 

“The 5.9% budget increase in year two is more than any other university in the state,” said Aaron Trump, chief government and legal affairs officer. Trump is also the government relations official for the university. 

The state gave the university this funding due to the university’s persistent graduation rates, student retention and students graduating on time, said Trump. 

“In fact, some institutions faced budget cuts in this year’s budget,” Trump said. “They’re going to suffer those cuts through the next two years, whereas USI is coming ahead.” 

Steven Bridges, vice president for finance and administration, is the chief business and fiscal officer for the university. Bridges said the university will use the operation funds to begin travel again and to give employees a raise. 

“I think the fact that raises have not occurred for several years makes the need to have across the board raises probably a key element,” Bridges said. 

He said the executive team would request a universal raise and then decide how the left over money is spent. 

“The pie is only so big,” Bridges said. “So, when you start cutting into multiple pieces, the pieces get smaller.” 

The university did not receive funding for the nursing expansion initiative or the strong start to completion program. There will be no major construction on campus after the renovation of the Health Professions and Wellness Center as the university received no capital funding.  

Bridges said this is a good time for the university not to receive capital funding because the university can focus on housing renovations. 

President Ron Rochon said faculty and staff are responsible for the university being on the positive side of the budget. 

“To look at the results and find out that USI is in good stead is because of our effort,” Rochon said.

Rochon said the country is opening back up and students are looking to have a full college experience. He said faculty and staff will return to campus full time Aug. 2. 

“I want to make sure we are at the forefront of everyone’s thinking about being the campus of choice,” Rochon said. “I want USI to remain the campus of choice.” 

Provost Mohammed Khayum said the university is 70% towards their enrollment goal of 1,525 incoming students. He said getting the additional 500 students between the end of this month and the end of June is critical. 

Around 1,000 students who are eligible for fall classes have not registered yet, Khayum said. 

Additional news from the town hall: 

  • Indiana legislators provided the university civil immunity in the university’s response to COVID-19 through House Bill 1002 and Senate Bill One. 
  • The university dual credit program saw a 135% increase in revenue, generating half a million dollars. 
  • Mohammad Khayum and Steven Bridges will be leading two teams to discuss the operating budget in Fall 2021. Khayum’s committee will focus on the academic and non-academic entities and Bridges’ committee will focus on the operations of the budget across campus. 
  • One-time government funding provided students with $14.7 million total to help students who have faced difficulties because of COVID-19.