Case Western president takes blame for fundraising shortfall

CLEVELAND - The president of Case Western Reserve University, facing a faculty no-confidence vote, took responsibility Monday for a drop in fundraising and warned that the campus could face $40 million deficits yearly.

"As president, I take full responsibility for the decisions over the past four years that have brought us to this moment," Edward M. Hundert said in a campus e-mail.

To encourage discussion of the issues facing Case, Hundert directed the Web posting of the university budgets by Monday and said he would begin a series of campus meetings.

Hundert said budget-planning assumptions about research funding and donations had been too aggressive.

Some $17 million has been cut from the university budget, but Case still faces a possible $40 million recurring annual deficit, or 5 percent, Hundert said.

Last week, emboldened by the resignation of Harvard University's president after a faculty no-confidence vote, award-winning physics professor Lawrence Krauss sent arts and science faculty colleagues an e-mail to gauge support for a nonbinding no-confidence vote against Hundert.

Krauss said it was likely that Hundert's offer of budget openness was "too little too late." A no-confidence vote will be held Thursday among arts and science professors, who represent about 9 percent of the Case faculty.

Only university trustees can terminate Hundert's contract.

Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Linsalata expressed his support for Hundert in a statement Monday and said the trustees believe the president is leading the university in the right direction. Linsalata said that welcoming campus comment should help the university balance its budget.

University donations dropped from $79 million in 2003 to $68.8 million in 2004 and rebounded in 2005 to $75.6 million, according to the Council for Aid to Education.

Hundert became Case's president in 2002. He previously served as psychiatry professor and medical-dental dean at the University of Rochester and taught at Harvard medical school.

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