President Richard Brodhead announced Tuesday that the University is almost halfway toward eliminating its budget deficit.
Brodhead said officials now estimate Duke’s overall deficit to be “in the range of $100 million.”
In his Primetime address to about 75 audience members in Page Auditorium and 100 online viewers, Brodhead said a number of circumstances have improved since officials announced the original estimate of $125 million. Primetime addresses are quarterly talks between senior administrators, staff and faculty about the University budget.
He added that efforts to cut the budget have already reduced the deficit by $50 to $60 million through cuts already enacted or identified. He offered few details as to how Duke will eliminate the remaining amount.
“It’s not a time when we can stop being disciplined,” Brodhead said. “We think we’ve solved more than half the problem in the first one-third of the time we’ve given ourselves to do it. So it’s a good start, but nevertheless we still have a significant way to go.”
Brodhead noted that the University has already eliminated the equivalent of 450 full-time jobs and said “with fair confidence” that there would be no large-scale layoffs.
“I cannot promise that we’ll have no layoffs,” he said. “Duke has a very decentralized budgetary system, and as each part of it figures out how to best manage its business, there may be layoffs here and there.”
Brodhead also could not say whether faculty and staff would receive raises or bonuses this year.
Last year, Duke announced a pay freeze for individuals making more than $50,000 annually and a one-time payment of $1,000 for those making at or below $50,000.
Although Brodhead said no decision on raises will be reached for four to six weeks, he emphasized that any increases would be modest.
“If we give out big raises this year, we only compound the problem we have to solve—so what do we do? Do we cut your benefits so we can afford your raises? Lay off people so we can afford the benefits and raises of those who remain? You may not like it, but all these things trade off in a very immediate way,” Brodhead said.
By foregoing bonuses and raises last year, Brodhead said the University saved $18 million and protected about 200 jobs.
He added that he does not anticipate making cuts to employee benefits.
As Duke tries to create a sustainable budget, Brodhead said the University will continue to look for ways to cut costs and boost revenues. He cited the Duke Administrative Reform Team’s efforts to boost University efficiency as part of the effort to cut the remaining millions from the deficit.
One DART change going into effect is a standardized, central computer purchasing process. The effort will save the University an estimated $2 million annually by negotiating bulk discounts through Dell, Lenovo and Apple and by extending the useful life of computers at Duke, according to a Duke news release Tuesday.
The new program will serve those who use standard office software, enterprise applications and data analysis or graphic applications, according to the release.
Despite the approximately $50 million left to cut, Brodhead said he is confident that “at the end of the day, Duke will be fine.”
“I say to myself, let’s look this moment in the eye, let’s take the measure of its challenges, and let’s step up to its challenges,” Brodhead said. “We can make it our place to make this place stronger at this time, and with your help that’s what we’ll do.”